Monday, July 09, 2007


Work is Great!
There is just too darn much of it.

I reflect upon this thought while relaxing during my summer break. I am blissfully able to sleep late, indulge myself in idle pursuit, and follow my muse for a few weeks before I start the new semester.

To be sure, I love teaching but it strikes me that there is never a good balance between the demands placed upon us and the time we need just to be ourselves. The last year seemed like a whirl of events, deadlines, grading, meetings, and filling out forms.

Stop the merry-go-round, I wanna get off.

Thankfully, we have summer break and I feel renewed or will after I spend some weeks camping in the wild of Colorado and resetting my internal safety valve.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Los Angeles by Moonlight

Link to Picasa Web Albums

I went out last week during a nearly full moon to photograph the backside of Downtown Los Angeles. Accompanying me were two Italian friends, Dario and Federico. We used tripods to steady the cameras and long exposures to capture the light which is why some of the exposures look like, "Day for Night."

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Class of Tomorrow

My 6th grade class ended their school year today. We viewed Spy Kids 3-D with anaglyphic glasses during which we all consumed far too much sugar and salt. Next year I will supply more fruit and veggies. Letting the kids provide lunch was a bit of a mistake.

After wreaking havoc, signing each other’s yearbooks, and playing games, we cleaned the classroom. I sat them down and quieted them for the last five minutes of the school year.
I spoke quietly to them about what the year had meant.

“This is your last moment as sixth graders. My doors are now a time portal through which you will pass into the future. Think about how you came here and what you have accomplished and reflect on its’ meaning to you. This room and your place in it will never be the same again.”

All this was delivered while the overture from Scheherazade played through I-Tunes.

Their eyes got wide and we all looked at each other and I felt they had understood what I meant. I must admit that I was a little fahklempt as I gazed at their wonderful silent faces. The bell rang and they jumped up and ran for the door wishing me a great summer with whoops and cheers.

Oh well. They were a great group of kids and I will really treasure all the experiences this year brought to us.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Read Write Web - The Malachite Maze

I have come to the end of my class on the Read/Write web. We've covered a lot of topics in the last six weeks and I feel that I have barely scrached the surface. Everywhere I turn there is another curve or whirl that draws me hither or yon. I don't mind though. It is like the surface of my desk at school. It looks a mess but I can usually find what I'm looking for.

I am excited about the possibilities of merging my math, science, and elective curriculum with new media tools. They offer greater possibilites for content, exploration, and expression for both my students and myself.

I have enjoyed publishing a web page, blog, and several groups. I subscribed to a social network, news aggregator, and several other organizations that can assist me with content, grants, and other help.

Will I continue to blog.

You bet!!!
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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Greek Technology

Parsing the knowledge

Here we see proof of ancient technology at work as a young Greek girl shows her mother how to use a laptop. Of course the operating system was different but the tools were the same.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Page Museum Field Trip and Study
June 4, 2007

Final Questions
Subject - Biodiversity, habitat destruction, resource use and global warming

1. What kinds of changes were taking place in North America as the Ice Age was ending?

2. What were the causes of extinction in southern California during the last Ice Age? How were the Ice Age extinctions different from what happened to the dinosaurs 65 million years ago?

3. How does our use of petroleum known as fossil fuel affect our environment?

4. How would global warming affect the survival of species alive today? How would humans be affected?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Page Museum - Megafauna Mystery

Our research from the field trip is almost done. The kids are editing a variety of documents and I expect to finish next week.

I have uploaded the files from student's cameras and posted the photos at our Picasaweb site.

Some of their group writing work is on posted on unkelwiki

Other students are using power point or word documents to edit and we will make them available at the Classroom group. I have not been able to get them all G-mail accounts yet.

One enterprising group has recorded a podcast

This is really fun for them and I wish you could see my class.

They are on fire.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Professional Development

Wow, that was a tough crowd.

I wanna be someplace else

Chang Lee, one of my colleagues, and I presented a development meeting about using Google search, docs, and spreadsheets. We started with a video about a 16th century gentlemen who is having trouble operating a book and calls the help desk.

Introducing the book

Some teachers continued to grade papers and talk while others just sat stone faced during the film. I got more laughs from my 6th graders who viewed this video. There were some teachers of course who were engaged and joined the John Burroughs group.

The group, Burroughs-ms , will help to assist teachers implement technology and establish a culture of collaboration. Chang talked about the use of Docs. We both emphasized the variety and flexibility of the tools, they are no cost to students or faculty, and posed some ideas on how to connect content and rigor to these programs.

I also started a classroom group for my students and they were very excited.

My Classroom

This is only the beginning. I'm thinking about next semester and how to start off using the read-write web. Gaining the trust and support of teachers to allow students to learn and collaborate in this new environment is truly a challenge.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Professional Development

Marcia Tate, according to my notes, once said that professional development meetings are like flocks of seagulls. Presenters fly in, drop a load, and leave.

Ms. Tate is the famous teacher and development specialist who contrary to her metaphor, provided one of the most inspiring workshops in my recent teacher training.

Developing Minds

I am scheduled to deliver PD's in the coming weeks and I want to make a positive impact with the tools I am learning. My real challenge is to make the tools work for me and figure out how to teach others to take and adapt what works for them

More to follow.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Who is the Decider-er

I have decider-ed that I don't want to be only decision making-er in my classroom.

Well actually, I don't mind making decisions but it seems to me that more effective learning situations are a combination of leadership and collaboration.

I was engaged in a discussion yesterday with some friends about our political deciders and we all had a bleak viewpoint about the current state of affairs.

I have come to hear more and more grumbling about the way this administration has trampled people who didn't agree with the Decider-er. Citizens from both parties are incensed and disgruntled with the supression of dissent and narrow mindedness of our leadership.

What kind of example have we set for our citizens over the last 6 years? Is it time for a change?

I'd love to hear some comments.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Google for Educators

I attended the Google Teacher Academy for the last two days and it was a truly enlightening and transforming experience for me. I heartily encourage any teacher to get involved and learn to use the tool set that Google has developed.

Google for Educators

The tools are great and they enable educators, scholars, and students to share ideas, collaborate, and build networks of content that can give us real power to change the way our educational bureaucracy functions.

Many people pay lip service advocating teaching our students 21st century skills, but Google is putting the rubber to the road.

I am eager to put my leather on the pavement to help them.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Esther Wojcicki's lecture about journaism and publishing was really enlightening at Google's Educator seminar this morning

Her journalism website is

This is true collaborative learning.

Her students publish online at

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Reflections on the Oh No Second

You can't take it back.

Human relationships are delicate and easily bruised. As a developing teacher, I believe that one of the pitfalls of our profession is being too judgmental. We are called upon every day to make judgments about our students based upon data we have collected and analyzed. We reward or fail our students based on the aggregate data but should we take a step back from the brink before we issue our judgments?

I have tried to encourage students to see themselves in full control of their grades. They show their mastery of content and receive marks based upon the skills they demonstrate. If they fail, I still try to encourage them. I have seen many students who are interested in the content of my classes but have not developed habits of mind, motivation, or organizational skills to pass the battery of tests, homework, or projects I assign.

The 6th graders I teach are just emerging from elementary school and they have widely different levels of physiological and psychological development. They are sometimes unable to perform at the level we are requiring at this stage of their life. Very often, they come back as 8th graders to tell me how much they have improved with a little maturity.

I enjoy teaching art because it gives me a chance to let children be creative, expressive, and playful. Some of my most talented artists are not successful in my Math and Science core.

My mother is a wonderful professional artist and I always remember her teaching me how to use materials but not how to make art.

Creating art is a personal expression and should not be judged in the same way we grade math. Kids are wonderful about assessing themselves and trying to improve their work. I really enjoy looking at their portfolios and helping them improve.

The Art Class

Our power to create negative feelings towards learning needs to be carefully considered before we cast our students in too harsh a light. Whether as teachers, or family members, or valued friends, the way we treat each other can build or destroy relationships and ultimately harm ourselves as well as those we cherish.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Nikon Gallery

These pictures were displayed by Samy's Camera in Los Angeles for a period of time in their Nikon Booth on the first floor. They were all taken with Nikon film or digital cameras that I was using at the time.

I use photography as an aid to teaching science and math. The web is well suited to sharing all kinds of media. I enjoy sharing these moments of light and time.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Art Class

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I am posting selections of my Art classwork online. I have been grading portfolios and some of the work is really outstanding. I photograph the paintings and once the work becomes digital, the students can use a paint program like Photoshop to alter the work or transform it further. They enjoy seeing their work on the web and Narda and Justine titled some of the paintings today.

Link to Picasa Web Page:

The Art Class

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Fibonacci Patterns

Hubble Space Telescope

I am fascinated with patterns, numbers, and their relationships to natural phenomena. Most of my students are learning English as their second language and come from Korean or Hispanic backgrounds. I wanted to teach my sixth grade core students a lesson in plane geometry and use techniques to aid English learners. I also wanted to demonstrate how a simple concept can impart multiple meanings. The Fibonacci sequence can be shown to express a logarithmic spiral similar to the growth in seashells. The ratio of these numbers is also used to describe a golden rectangle used by classical artists in creating balanced compositions. The length of the sides is a ratio of 1.61 to 1.

I described to the students how the sequence worked. We worked together to write the numbers out by adding the last number in the sequence to the one before it.

The sequence looks like this:

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233 ……..

Then we went to work with graph paper, straight edge, and compass. I love to have my students draw. Everyone drew a rectangle measuring 21 by 34 units. By constructing squares inside the rectangle using the reverse Fibonacci sequence, our drawings became a series of smaller boxes and rectangles

As I monitored student progress, I encouraged students who were successful in completing their rectangles to help other students still struggling with the task. Following that, we used compasses to inscribe quarter circle arcs from points A, B, C, D, E, and F. A logarithmic spiral appeared which was greatly enjoyed by everyone.

This spiral describes patterns experienced in nature. The kids were fascinated and we spent days in my art class exploring this phenomenon. There were many inspired works of art viewed and created using both traditional and digital media.

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Saturday, May 12, 2007


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These are my Rose Anemones and Clownfish. These two species have a symbiotic relationship with each other. The bigger Clownfish is 18 years old and has lived in my aquarium since 1990. The anemones have divided many times and I keep removing them to sell to my local Aquarium store. They live in the South Pacific so I have to keep my water temp at about 78 degrees Farenheit. They are beautiful animals and I have learned that they have some interesting stategies for survival in their habitat.
Rose Anemone Posted by Hello

Hermit Crab

Old Blue Eyes

Cleaner Shrimp
Mr. Magoo

Friday, May 11, 2007

Read Write Web

Notes on Read/Write Web:
Wow, there have been a lot of sites to visit. Today I posted an assignment for my class based upon the Falcon Cam in San Jose.

I would like to make this assignment available to my students and allow them to collaborate so that they would share information and formulate action plans.

A peregrine falcon
Photograph by Michael Melford
Courtesy of National Geographic


Create a Scientific Journal on the observations of the Peregrine falcons in San Jose, California

Link to Web Cam

Link to National Geographic

Link to Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Learn about the habitat, ecosystem, niche, food web and other important information about falcons.

Determine why they are considered endangered.

What environmental factors are they facing?

Come up with ways that our class or individuals can help the falcons.