Archive for the ‘Indiana’ category

The Things I Love

Sunday, 25 November 2007

We’re back from the 9th annual family gathering of the Bickels (Lois’ parents and Lois’ brother, his wife [Jinger] and their son), the Certalics (Jinger’s parents) and us on Thanksgiving weekend in Schaumburg, IL (home of the Woodfield Mall<= really big).

And, for the last 9 years, we had all read the same book and had a book talk (this year: A Thousand Splendid Sunsets [Hosseini of The Kite Runner]). At the suggestion by Lois, we each created a list of “Things we loved” that didn’t include the usual things like family or country or belief-like items. I scribbled mine on the back of notes from a little talk that I gave the editors of the Student Publications class and found more room on the hotel’s small notepad paper. It was interesting to hear each person’s list and was in general a pretty cool to do.

Try it sometime…or now–as a response to this post–it’s fun. It’s not so much in making this list, but sharing it with someone else who has made the list too.

So, here’s mine:

The Things I love:

  • Venti Bold lots of room for cream with four packets of Sugar in the Raw from Starbucks at 7:07 a.m. before school.
  • New England Clam Chowder with sour dough bread at The Tides restaurant in Bodega Bay, California.
  • The Mac OS X OS with its Unix core underneath and the bling bling of the UI on our eMac.
  • That each Bickel has a bottle of nasal spray on their night stand.
  • Celtic Women, Riverdance, and “Danny Boy.”
  • Most BBC comedies.
  • Netflixing with Lois.
  • Colin’s red hair and Evan’s hitting the floor.
  • Making Ken and Doris coffee.
  • The first bass note in a song.
  • The pictures of Lois and me at the Japanese Tea Gardens (Golden Gate Park) in 1989 and 2001.
  • The beginning, middle and end of a marathon.
  • My 2007 Grand Rapids Marathon shirt.
  • NPR (“Wait, wait…Don’t Tell me,” “This American Life,” and “Speaking of Faith”).
  • Troubleshooting a website’s code and the moment when it works as it ought to.
  • Writing in a black marble composition book.
  • The Golden Gate Bridge on a bright foggy day.
  • My running shoes.
  • My Timberland shoes.
  • A 1988 Ford Festiva.
  • Building inuksuk on the Lake Michigan shore in Milwaukee, WI.
  • The flatness of the Midwest.
  • When Lois calls me a jackass.

Short Indy trip; fast tempo run

Thursday, 21 June 2007

(Hey, my whole html toolbar shows up in Safari…cool)<= Spoke too soon…shows up, not fully functional
Anyway, the new teacher portfolio scoring took less than half the time we had planned for, so I got to come home Tuesday. (BTW, this is a worthwhile process: the portfolio, the mentoring, and the scoring…I will post about this later, but for some reason, some people think it’s “just another hoop we have to jump through”…I’d like to go on record and argue that assessment…later).
This morning was my first tempo run (a run at marathon pace) and I was planning on a conservative time of 8:00 miles and my first mile today was 7:35 and then I figured I might as well see how the rest of the run went. For the 5 mile run, my average mile was 7:40 and I felt comfortable and could breathe easily…which makes me wonder about my plans of qualifying for Boston next year: why not this year?
So the journey begins and I will continue to trace my progress here. I’ve been keeping track of some of my training over at Buckeye, but I can’t seem to figure out how to have my training log show up in my sidebar (that’s another project, I suppose).  

Foggy morning on cat feet

Thursday, 10 May 2007

When I stepped out for the 3-miler this morning, I was wondering if it was foggy enough for a school delay. But, my mind quickly ran to poetry and the various faces of poetry that I was going to lead my classes through today. These poems, though, tend to be fairly accessible to people and a tad less formatting and lots more whimsical.

Another thing that I remembered is that I’m still running in the Sunburst (Hall of Fame to Notre Dame) the first Saturday in June. My calf feels fine–a bit tight at the beginning of the run–so I should be able to reach the finish line. From there it’s summer re-training and Lake City Marathon in mid-September and then I run with Lois at the Lakefront Marathon (WI) at the beginning of October. I’m still tossing the idea around about Grand Rapids, but possibly that will fall by the wayside like last year.

I’ve finished making my phone calls to teacher on my list, informing them of the delay. I end with Carl Sandburg and that most anthologized, “Fog”:

THE fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches 5
and then moves on.

"Indiana Plan for Digital-Age Learning” fails on logic and pedagogy

Friday, 6 April 2007

As sometimes I do when I have extra time on a Spring Break where it is snowing outside, I cruise on over to the Indiana DOE site to see what is “coming down the pipe” from Indianapolis. I know that 7 Habits encourages us to not concentrate on the Circle of Concern that is not within our Circle of Influence, but I still think what I say about an educational matter still has merit.

So today found me looking at the “Indiana Plan for Digital-Age Learning” (Jan 2007) publication and apparently final report. I know that I read it looking for the key words that gets me a bit keyed up (heck, I’ve begun a separate blog just for technology and education), but here are some things that will still be there when I go back and do a closer read (and my apologies to twitter readers for my ranting):

The makeup of the committee that brings the recommendation are truly shareholders in education: they are mostly business owners or administrators in the technology field. The only “educators” are either school IT people or school administrators. The only active teacher is Jan Weir, a high school chemistry teacher. My bet, and I pick this up from the report, that most of the data to support their recommendations came from other sources rather than real knowledge within the classroom.

The “proof” data itself is based upon projections and even if you didn’t like it, the book Freakanomics should be a lesson for us that those who try and forecast trends and especially educational ones are merely just giving a guess and not prophecy. You know this because there is little “here’s the other side of the story” discussion. About the only concession you’ll get on reports such as these are the obligatory “technology alone is not the magic bullet” and “technology is a tool” comments. But the rest of the report will sing the glories of the report’s conclusions.

Speaking of “proof” you always need an “edge” in scaring those who might disagree with your recommendations, and in Indiana it is “the brain drain.” All of our brightest kids are leaving the states to go elsewhere. Don’t you think that it might have something to do with the weather in Indiana (hey, it’s snowing today…and it’s Spring Break!) Bring in the woes of the economy and then use it as proof that you as taxpayers need to spend more money on computers. This is a logical fallacies because nowhere in the report does it give proof that if we spend more time and money on computers and this approach to how we do school will our kids be “more competitive” in the workplace (and btw, what about actually learning?)

My favorite part is the survey of teachers, because they come across as, well, a bit technologically dumb in the results (represented by handy Excel-generated bar graphs). And this is my favorite because it’s the most true: teachers are cautious because each 7 years, someone says that that “THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO DO SCHOOL” and teachers are human and pretty smart and will know that if it is as promised, there will be proof. For technology in the classroom (all the new whiteboards and snazzy software to make Johnny finally appear to be reading because of the report at the end of the session) the proof is not there.

So, all of this on a quick read. I fully admit my lack of close read and will do that later. My gut feeling is that my instincts are right: people love the new stuff and want a magic bullet, but rarely want to talk in depth about the relationship to pedagogy. Education as a whole has been the whipping boy of public discourse and politics for too long (you realize that the “Nation at Risk” document in 1983 is responsible for most of this and, surprise, may based on faulty data and conclusion).

Sure, we do things differently now than we did when I was in high school (1984); so, as we try and infuse some of these ways of communication into our classrooms, ask a teacher first…and pull up a chair and take note, because it’ll take awhile to see how solid pedagogy directs technology’s usage.

Graphing Northern Indiana Weather

Tuesday, 13 February 2007


Graphing Northern Indiana Weather

Originally uploaded by vergil66.

While enjoying a 2-hour delay from school, I found this from Accuweather’s 15 day forecast: we’re in for some fairly erratic weather patterns (and boy, the local weather folk will have a great time with this).

Let is sno…

Thursday, 25 January 2007

Saturday’s long run was nice: 9-miler around the big loop of town. Tuesday’s and today’s runs were fine and I skipped yesterday because I was just plain tired when the Palm Pilot alarm went off (and why we are depending on that thing, I really don’t know).

A nice dusting on the ground this morning which is supposed to turn into more snow. Apparently this is the work of Global Warming <enter heated arguments> <bad pun>.

I’ve finished reading Doubt: A History, ran through Misquoting Jesus (which apparently didn’t make this person happy), and am skipping through one of the accounts of the Gospel of Judas (from National Geographic). Ah, there’s a lot of good stuff out there. My next reads: Ehrman’s take on the Gospel of Judas and then some more fun: Code Name Ginger (the story behind the Segway).

What makes a high school great: ask Newsweek

Monday, 2 October 2006

I know that this is an older report, but I found two things interesting about this article:

1. No Indiana school made it in the top 100 high schools in the USA (according to Newsweek).

2. The way they initially figured the inclusion into The List:

With our Best High Schools list, NEWSWEEK recognizes schools that do the best job of preparing average students for college. By dividing the number of AP and IB tests taken at a school by the number of graduating seniors, we can measure how committed the school is to helping kids take college-level courses. We think kids at those schools have an edge, no matter their economic background. But many schools not on our list are also challenging students in innovative ways — proof that the national experiment in high-school education is just beginning. Ask yourself, “What is high school really for?” Then look around at the options available to today’s teenagers: diverse and compelling answers abound. Here are some of them.