Experiential Learning: My Reason For Excursions

If you have been following me for a while, then you know that sometime during the Summer I take my family to someplace related to what my son is studying about in the upcoming school year. This year, we decided that it would be nice for him to look at evidence of the Meso-American civilization by going to Chichen Itza and surrounding archaeological sites around the Yucatan Peninsula.

From Trip to the Yucatan Peninsula

Now, it is always difficult to reason why we go to places each Summer, especially since money can be tight in my household.  But my son’s education has been truly blessed by each of our adventures [Read more on the importance of family vacations.].  Based on David A. Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory, he has been learning through concrete experiences and his reflections on that experience.  As he goes through the curriculum of the school year, he is able to compare his development of knowledge based on first-hand experience to the situations being presented during class.

From Trip to the Yucatan Peninsula

In this latest excursion, we all learned about  the location, landforms, and climate of Mexico and their effects on the Mayan economy, trade, and development of the urban society [See CA History-Social Science Standard 7.7].  In visits to Chichen Itza, Tulum, and Coba, we learned a great deal about the rise and demise of the Mayan civilization as well as the major developments that came from this great society.

From Trip to the Yucatan Peninsula

All in all, the experience justified our visit to the Yucatan Peninsula.

Summer 2011 – Also a Time to Learn

The next three months will be full of learning experiences for me despite the end of school.

For several weeks, I will be leading week-long sessions for a course called Infusing 21st Century Technology Skills to Meet the Needs of All Students . Teachers throughout the school district will be shown how to create digital portfolios that contain evidence of learning that addresses common core standards, differentiated instruction, and use of data to inform/drive instruction.

Meanwhile, I will be part of a school team that will be heading to Purdue University for a program called INSPIRE so we can learn innovative ways to integrate effective STEM curricula into our classrooms.

I will also attend a workshop on project-based learning (PBL) based on work by the Buck Institute for Education.  After successful completion of a PBL project with first grade students around the topic of culture, it will be interesting how to improve upon the work already done.

In addition, I will be joining other elementary teachers in learning how to use our new language arts and language development program, California Treasures .

Another workshop I will be attending will help me understand how to better use technology to track student progress in our DIBELS  assessment program.

In my spare time, I will informally prepare materials for student participation in the First Lego League 2011 Food Factor Challenge.

Be sure to check back as I report on each of my Summer endeavors.

Just “Elf”-ing Around with an Embed

Found some time to fool around with this year’s ElfYourself while waiting for some video project to render.  No, I haven’t come to some epiphany with this post, but I just wanted to try embedding another app into a post.  Yes, I have grown fond of the “embed” activity that is more common place.  Well, enjoy a little disco number from my family.

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Spreading Happiness

I knew there was something to this social network thing I participate in.  Elizabeth Landau of CNN wrote an article called Happiness is contagious in social networks.  It essentially states that someone who is happy in a social network makes others happy.  And a happy face in a Facebook profile picture attracts other smiling friends to that person.  According to the following video, your health is also affected positively by the gift of happiness.

I was concerned that I may need to unfriend my Facebook and Twitter friends with profile pictures that don’t smile, but apparently I just have to make sure I have an exponentionally higher number of happy people to bring my own joy meter up.  Anyways, it’s time to spread some cheer.  So, are you smiling in your profile picture?

Pondering When To Perceive Things Different

I’ve been trying hard to see the future as bright, but certainly we are going through many issues that deter me from that outlook.  For example, I have usually buy extended warranties with purchases of large item electronics because I feel I am investing in peace of mind.  Such was the case in purchases of a Roomba and a Robosapien V2 more than a year ago from Sharper Image.   Now I am in a quandry because I don’t have an opportunity to take my items to a retail store when the items I set out to protect fail.  It has caused me to question the wisdom of my decisions.

This is happening in other areas.  Yes, I have been the victim of viral e-mail warning me not to purchase gift cards.  But such a warning feeds upon our fragile minds when we once thought our decisions were made on solid ground.

Should we “rethink” perceptions about the products that tantalize me?  It seems that way, as illustrated by Bart Simpson explained in a Mapple video.

I have had times when I almost upgraded my mobile phone again because it could do so much more.  I was tempted just this week to buy the latest holiday lights because my current set does not seem as bright as the new ones I see my neighbors displaying.

But I have been more determined not to covet (grounded in my own beliefs) and instead appreciate where I am as well as those around me.  Furthermore, I see that giving my time has been more valuable, whether I teach Sunday School at Church of the Open Door, volunteer for Computer-Using Educators of Los Angeles, or spend time with my family at home.  And much pleasure do I feel when contributing to my PLN through Twitter, Facebook, and other networks (hmmm, Yoda speak).

So what are other ways to change the way I see things?  This is my 2 minute brainstorm:

I’m sure I’ll think of more.  In light of our current conditions, what do you think you might do to see things differently?

Take a Break From Reality

You know your too busy when you stop taking time to reflect.  So as I finally enter another blog entry after a long hiatus, I found today’s holiday a time to pretend I am someone else.  Pre-kindergarten students from Jardin de Ninos Early Education Center came by my district office to show off their costumes and clamor for some tasty (but healthy) treats.  I interacted with several princesses, super heroes, storybook characters, and other dressed-up children.  This was my opportunity to bring an old costume out of my closet that was last worn back in the 1990’s when I worked at both Coutin School and later Annandale Elementary School.  So here is a snapshot of me taken by a colleague today using her iPhone.  Thanks, Kirsten!


At a time when the amount of work has increased for me, it was refreshing for me to say that work was “so easy, even a caveman can do it!”  And so a “thank you” also goes out to  Geico Insurance for providing the inspiring words.  Check this out if you have time to waste: http://www.cavemanscrib.com

A Message that Still Resounds – Do You Believe in Me?

Today in our LAUSD Local District 5 Principals Meeting, we showed video footage of Dalton Sherman‘s address to the Dallas Independent School District.  Of course, this 5th grade student from Charles Rice Learning Center spoke in front of Dallas administrators, teachers, and other faculty and staff back on August 25, 2008.  But since then, his words have made the YouTube circulation and has been blogged about by a number of educators (funny, I guess I’m contributing to this fervor).

TeacherTube Video: Do You Believe In Me? – Dalton Sherman Addresses DISD

The reaction by administrators and Local District 5 faculty was still of unanimous inspiration.  It is amazing how this young orator is able to connect with not just those in the 17,000+ audience at American Airlines Center, but also to so many via the videosharing circuit (YouTube, TeacherTube, etc.).  So many principals came up to me during the break to find out how they could get a copy.  My response was to search for it in TeacherTube.  I stated, “Just search/type: Do You Believe in Me?”

Culminating with the Beginning: LAUSD Science-Focused Week Publishes Podcasts at the End of Professional Enrichment Program

Another professional development opportunity. Another time to gain knowledge. But this has not been just another week. At Teach the Teachers Collaborative from July 20-25, Los Angeles Unified School District teachers spent time synthesizing delivery of science content through the use of podcast episode development.

It all began with a keynote presentation by Dan Schmit of Intelligenic. You can view his presentation here, which was captured through Ustream.tv (thank you Youssef Elias for setting up the recording).

Ustream.tv Video: TTTC08 – Science in Action (1 hour, 41 minutes)

Throughout the week, participants also found themselves published throughout the web. Here are some links to those areas.

In conclusion, the week served as an example of what can be achieved when educators not only learn the content but share the content among their colleagues and the rest of the world.

Capturing the Moment: Debate Over Cellblock For Program

We are approaching mid-point in our Teach the Teachers Collaborative program for Los Angeles Unified School District science teachers. So far, banter has been going back and forth regarding the end-of-the-week video montage we should present. Currently, we are having participants contribute to a special web-driven slide show on Cellblock.

Some “pros” of using this are that (1) everyone can contribute freely to the slide show without having to track down a designated person, (2) images can be viewed in the presentation immediately after they are sent as attachments from e-mail, and (3) a cellular phone becomes an acceptable device for contributing. I was hearing about some “cons” today from several sources, though: (1) pictures uploaded cannot be downloaded as individual image files, (2) media is not automatically arranged in chronological order but is instead listed in order of Cellblock receiving the e-mail attachments, and (3) music is not integrated into the slide show.

We will see what happens on Friday, but right now we are settling for having the slide show play as participants walk into the culminating meeting with music created in GarageBand playing in the background (just as is without trying to make it a large production).

What do you think? Would you just let it play as is, or would you create that montage using a video-editor such as iMovie or a photo-show such as Photo Story 3?

Linking Cover It Live with Ustream

So here I am working with colleagues to set up a Cover It Live session linked to a Ustream.TV feed. We will be covering Dan Schmit at Teach the Teachers Collaborative tonight, who will be speaking on podcasting in education. Let’s see if it works. {I guess it does!!!}

Added on July 22, 2008: So here is the catch. We thought we recorded the Ustream.TV feed, but it is not showing up. And it was such a great presentation. This shall be tried again.