Saturday, December 8, 2012

Part 2 The Trip Home

I finally decided to write about our summer trip, but have also decided it needs to be broken up a bit to make it palatable. Part 1 is the trip to the destination of Washington State and the people we visited along the way. Part 2 will be the trip home and the people we visited and part 3 will be about the people themselves.

With no real plan in mind, the next to the last day Diane and I sat down and tried to decide which way to head back to Texas. We didn't want to cover the same ground and we wanted to see more of the country. So the question was "West coast and cut across or into Canada and cut down?" "How much farther is it if we go through Canada?" 100 more miles was the answer. "Let's go through Canada."

When we left Dallas we also made sure we took our passports since we were going to be near Canada just in case, so it all worked out well. With thank you gifts hidden for Julia Fallon, we hit the road. On occasion you just have to stop especially when you find places such as this on the side of the road:

So worth it - Cocomut Creme and Chocolate Creme pie. Like they say life is short, dessert first. So we continued on toward the Canadian border.

We headed toward Idaho to enter Canada north of Coeur d'Alene. Unfortunately on the way to Idaho we started having headlight issues with the Prius. Upon arriving we stopped to gas up the car and found this funtional piece of early Americana equipment at the corner.

The Toyota store was already closed for the evening so it was decided that Diane would get to sleep in and I would handle the car being serviced. I could not have found nicer people not just in Idaho but also at the Toyota dealership I went to in Coeur d'Alene. While sitting in the dealership I got to thinking of what I could do as we traveled through Canada. I sent Alec Couros a dm and asked if we could stop in and visit with his family. He said yes. Then I asked if he could possibly get me Dean Shareski's home address. Knowing that Dean was down in San Diego at ISTE12, I started to do a bit of scheming.

Vehicle serviced and light repaired, I called Diane and told her to get ready. After finding her some Starbucks and breakfast we rolled. Small wonderful towns, a cool easy rain and lots of conversation about where we had been and where we were going helped to pass the time. Then we arrived

Into Canada we went. I know not the best picture but we were there. Cool, rainy weather. Easily a 50 degree difference from Texas. So sweet. Into Alberta, up to Highway 1. A couple of days to travel to Moose Jaw and Regina, to see more friends.

Alec had been busy getting me Dean's address so we cruised through Moose Jaw and found "the house." So we walked up and knocked on the door to find the Shareski's youngest daughter. I introduced myself and Diane so she wouldn't be too creeped out about who was taking pictures and let her know what we were hoping to do. I truly think she was creeped out anyway.(Something about wierd friends coming over to the house.)

The cool thing was that we were unaware of the underground tunnels in Moose Jaw and the ties to American mobsters and the city of Chicago. So we had a leisurely lunch in downtown Moose Jaw and saw the sights and then headed to Regina and a visit with the The Alec side of the Couros family.

Fantastic folks, wonderful children, a tour of Regina and some of the sights, a great meal at a local Greek restaurant and a lovely stay overnight. Needless to say the conversation was fantastic.

As I said in the beginning I will talk about the people a bit in the next post. From Regina we began our slow drive back to Dallas, back into the US and the heat, through the Dakota's, into Kansas, my cousin in Oklahoma for a morning breakfast and back to Dallas.

The memories, the people, learning along the way. So wonderful to have the opportunity.

So much to learn, so little time.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

It Truly is About the People -Part 1 The Trip itself

I finally decided to write about our summer trip, but have also decided it needs to be broken up a bit to make it palatable. Part 1 is the trip to the destination of Washington State and the people we visited along the way. Part 2 will be the trip home and the people we visited and part 3 will be about the people themselves.

This past summer Diane and I took a two week car trip. We like seeing the country, I truly hate flying because now I get TSA'd every time at the airport, but that is a story that doesn't matter. We love seeing the country.
If we had been flying over the country we could have looked down on the fields of grain but instead, because we were driving, we were able to see this cross made of wheat at the Cathedral of the Plains in Kansas.

Our first night of travel we went from Dallas to Salina KS and spent the night. We talked with several people in my network but none were in Salina. We could have easily had a meal and a roof if we had diverted out destination some. So the next morning as we traveled along I-70 we saw the twin towers of the Cathedral rise along the landscape. Then the cool thing of car travel was a simple "let's go look."  This article written about the Church in 1972 tells a beautiful story about the Cathedral.

A few hours later we were on our way and heading toward Colorado. Talking (AKA tweeting) with people along the way when I wasn't driving of course, we tried to visit with people along the way. In some cases we were successful and in others schedules didn't work out. In Colorado as we skirted Denver, it was hard to tell what was smoke and what were clouds and it went on for miles. It was sad to think about all that was being destroyed.

In Wyoming we were surprised to see that interstates could actually be shut down due to snow. For us Texans, that was hard to imagine, so much snow that you block an interstate highway. Our problem in Texas is not being allowed to drive as fast as we want on the interstate. Signs such as this one added humor to the trip.

Through the northeast edge of Colorado near Estes Park which brought back memories and discussions of ISTE10 and the Estes Park family(You know who you are). Then into Wyoming and on to Utah.We made it to Utah in time to watch some high school baseball with Kelly Dumont and his family as his son was on the team. They won that game and went on to bigger and better things afterward.

From Utah we traveled through Idaho, Oregon and Washington to our home base so to speak courtesy of Julia Fallon. Julia was leaving for ISTE12 the next day and had offered us a place to stay while she was gone. Thus our home base in Washington State had been established.

While based in WA. we went to Yamhill and had lunch with Luann Lee, we went to Portland and had pizza at "derLauer house" with Tim Lauer, we spent an evening with Jennifer Dalby and her lovely family. Truly about the people and the experiences. Part 2 soon.

So much to learn and so little time.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Tonight I Connected Some Dots

Each year I have many opportunities to attend conferences. One day, two day, week long, travel, local and yet, I still feel there are so many I would like to attend. As people get ready to attend ISTE 2012, I can either be sad that I am not there or I can be happy for all those who are going. I choose to be happy for all those going.

For those going to ISTE12, do turn to someone and greet them and introduce yourself. Don't use the usual line of "I follow you on Twitter" instead take a moment to introduce yourself and tell them why you follow them on the Twitterz. Was it something they said, something someone said about them, who recommended them, just something other than I stalk you.

So that being said, how did I connect some of the dots. Diane and I went to Memphis this past week for a conference called The Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence. This is a wonderful, collaborative effort between a philanthropic family, The University of Memphis and Presbyterian Day School for boys. These three organizations bring together public, private and charter school teachers alike, for the sole purpose of trying to help them become better educators. Professional development. Come learn, come teach, come see what others are doing in their classrooms.

This is the third year for this Institute and this year the keynote was John Hunter. Many may know Mr. Hunter from his TED talk back in March. Maybe you know Mr. Hunter's fourth grade students and the game John started called the World Peace Game. Somehow Diane and I had missed any news about John, the game and his fourth grade students. However, due to the Martin Institute, we were able to see and learn as well as talk with John and hear all about the World Peace Game.

On the way home from Memphis, Diane and I did things like listen to the TED talk that John gave back in March, talked about what we had seen and heard at the conference, and I also got to meet many new and seasoned friends from Twitter. Today I listened to John's talk again for there was something tugging at me. I knew the town name, I knew people there, but how? In what context did I know them? Albemarle County, Virginia. Wait, Pam Moran, Paula White along with several others in my network are from that area and work in those schools. This is where John Hunter is from?

So I sent Pam Moran a tweet asking if she was the same Pam Moran that John speaks about in his Ted Talk? She said she was and I was immediately flooded with feelings of joy. Someone out there who has been talking about what we need to do in classrooms had someone talking about what he got to do and how it helped his students develop wonderful, critical, thinking skills. I was blown away. Someone who trusted one of their faculty members to do the right thing, somone who treated another person with true professionalism and it all worked. Pam's simple response to me was "...make sure paths stay open and permissions remain in place to create, design, make, engineer, build, compose learning." How beautifully simple is that? All coming down to relationship.

While I realize this is somewhat scattered, trust that I will be writing more about all of this.

So much to learn and so little time.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A New Year

Happy New Year to you all. It has been an interesting year to say the least. That being said, I have returned hoping to add to the conversations through my blog. It took me a bit to get all the dust off and think about what direction to go now that I am here again.

The school semester has been one of attempting to get everything settled in as this summer we shifted from a Novell network to a Windows server based structure. With the switch to Windows, we also gave the students and faculty web based storage and eliminated some of the additional servers that were used to store student work. The students also have their own email accounts as well. Our students don't need to hit the servers at all. With web storage, our LMS and their email accounts our students can progress very well.

The faculty also has a couple of different ways to store their work. Our LMS has unlimited storage for our faculty and the faculty also has web storage with the same company the students are now using.

We still continue to work with the faculty and staff on the student use of their electronic textbooks as we are 95% all electronic textbooks. Many of the Diocesan schools have been meeting with us and looking for ways to move that direction as well. It is interesting to me to see some of the changes people look to make in their systems based on the direction we have moved to and progressed.

The New Year looks to be a good one and off to a great start, of course that is easy to say when you are only 3 days in to the New Year. My hope will be to talk about some of the things we have done to help make changes in our educational efforts as opposed to merely talking about what I think is wrong.

What changes have you made that are leading your students and faculty to educational success? I would enjoy hearing about them.

So much to learn and so little time.