Sunday, July 28, 2013

Finding the Right Backing for Quote Posters

 We picked up several new posters from United Arts in Education. Each one is a classic quote from a famous person in quirky fonts and decorations. The problem is that classroom posters are not the same size as regular posters and I wanted to frame them.

I already had two poster frames in the normal 17x23 size and the new posters would fit nicely inside, I just needed to fill the surrounding gap. My solution was to float the poster behind the glass and cover the backing board.

For the greenish poster, I used some Christmas wrapping paper with diamond shapes. On the blue/orange poster, I crinkled up brown packaging paper. I think both turned out great and will fit well with my new classroom decorating scheme.

New King of The Road

The weight of responsibility grows with each passing year. Josiah received his official Learner's Permit in the mail this week. Now he has to carry a wallet (if it only had money in there too).

And so we begin the process of learning how to drive, and learning how to relinquish control of a large piece of machinery. So far, we've all been a little nervous but everyone is learning.

He's tried driving the stick shift, found it a bit overwhelming, but wants to keep at it. Of course his rationale is that the Shelby Mustang he wants is a stick shift, so there's his motivation.

Book Review: Sebastian Darke, Prince of Fools

This was a fun read, perfect for young adults/teens who like a good adventure story. The characters were quite believable, even if there were talking animals (but not of the Narnian variety).

A couple of times the story started to take on a predictable literary direction, but would veer away at the last moment. That kept it interesting and leaves the door open for several points to be addressed later in a sequel.

The villains were ruthless and the action exciting, but the dialogue remained clean. Blood and tears were shed, but neither too graphic to make the reader uncomfortable. Even the romantic bits left me cheering for the hero, nothing so gross as to embarrass a young teenage boy.

At 338 pages, the book was enough to fill a couple evenings and an afternoon at the pool, perfect for summer reading. I have not read any other Philip Caveney books, but am certainly interested to see what he has to offer in the adult category.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Lamp Shade Made From Slides

As part of my new classroom decoration, I found a fun idea on Pinterest that I just had to try: a lampshade made from old slides!

I found the lamp at Goodwill for a few bucks. It had an ugly shade, but all I needed was the wire frame. It took about two to three hours to make the shade, some of that scrounging up supplies and figuring out the best way to attach everything.

The slides are mine, photos that I took on various trips around the world and from college. Deciding which slides to use was one of the hardest parts. I didn't want to use my good slides but wanted the images to still be compelling.

I used yellow and red plastic coated wire for the connectors, cut into one inch pieces. A drill press gave me even holes on all four sides. It would be interesting to do the math on how many two inch slides would fit the circumference of the shade, but I was able to get thirteen slides to each row with little finagling.

In keeping with the new eclectic nature of the decor, I added a pair of 3-D glasses. Overall, I really like the look and hope my students do too.

Got That New Car Smell

There's a new pony in the stable at our house! We traded in the tired, old Honda Odyssey for a 2011 Honda Fit. It was a bit of a downsize: two less cylinders, a little less cargo room, and less gas being used.

Of course it is the Sport version and while it's an automatic, there are paddle shifters! While there was a twinge of sadness saying goodbye to the van, it has been fun getting to know the ride.

If you are shopping for a new or used car, be sure to see Larry Wilcher at Terry Lee Honda in Avon, and tell them that we sent you.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Changing Spaces: Refreshing the Toad Habitat

Gidget (my daughter's toad) received a home makeover today. While the little hopper spent some time in one of the smaller aquariums, Elizabeth and I cleaned out and refurbished the toad tank.

The guiding concept was a private pool, set apart by several larger rocks. You can see Gidget enjoying this pool in the top left corner of the photo. We also included a rock bridge over to the pool area.

In the lower right, there is a potsherd that creates a little toad hovel. We covered it with moss and surrounded it with pebbles. Elizabeth also placed bark upright against the back of the tank.

The overall look was woodland creek bed. It's much rockier than her previous habitat which had more dirt. We found that the dirt still contained several worms, so hopefully this way, Gidget will be able to find all the grubs before they disappear underground.

Monday, July 15, 2013

One Map Down, Several to Go

Hopefully the first one is the most difficult. Now that I have one class completely mapped, I can use the organization and processes on my other classes. Here's the link to my completed Web Design Curriculum Map.

I use Microsoft's Introduction to Web Design curriculum, supplementing as needed. It works well for a semester class. There is plenty of additional material and advanced lessons to spread over a whole year too.

An element missing from the map are the benchmarks. The curriculum lines up with NET-S and 21st Century Skills. I have the cross reference to Indiana State Standards, but our mapping software only logs the core subjects, not electives.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Lost While Mapping: Found A Biblical Integration Resource

Posters available from
BiblicalIntegration.com
As part of our ACSI certification process, we are mapping out all our curriculum, including biblical integration and cross-referencing state standards. Considering I don't have any formal textbooks, the process is forcing me to formalize all the crazy piles of data I've been using. A necessary process, but still very tedious and time consuming.

One area that I struggle with is the biblical integration element. It sounds good, and what a Christian school should be doing, but exactly what is it and how do I get it done? I don't want to slap a glossy veneer of Bible verses on top of an HTML lesson. I figured I was not the first person to struggle with this process, so a little internet searching turned up some help.

I came across Biblicalintegration.com, which seemed to express the same concerns and frustrations I was feeling. But beyond commiserating, the site provided free downloads of worksheets and examples on how to walk through the process of seeing a classroom lesson through a Christian worldview.

It has totally helped me rethink the way I'm planning units and lessons. The process still isn't any faster or easier, but at least I have confidence in the finished product. I truly see how computer classes can be used to challenge a student's presumptions about the world and how the Bible addresses those presumptions.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tapestry Workshop Day 2: Overflowing with Ideas


Day two was highlighted with a ride on the Boilermaker Special - the official mascot of Purdue. (Sorry about the photo quality but it's a webcam shot of a Polaroid taken on the moving train, way too cool!)

After eight hours in workshop sessions, there is too much to elaborate on in one single post. I plan to refer back to things learned as I try to implement them throughout the school year.

In this post, I'll simply present a summary list of topics explored:

  • Identifying things to change in my CS courses
  • Using logic puzzles
  • Inquiry Based Instruction
  • Cognitive Load Theory
  • Paired Programming
  • Test Driven Development of programming
  • How students choose careers and majors
  • How to effectively reach out to prospective students
  • Professional development resources available through CS4EDU
  • Examples of Success
  • Encouragement that we all can do better
  • Using manipulatives and unplugged strategies

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tapestry Workshop Day 1: Gender and Stereotype Threats

Day one of the Purdue Tapestry Workshop and I already have ideas of things to improve this next year. Of course we started with some ice breakers, but these card games also helped get the brain going.

After dividing into teams of threes, each team was given a shuffled deck of cards. We then had to sort the deck into order as quickly as possible. Consistency, neatness and order were the keys as well as planning and communication. The fasted team completed the task in a mere fifty seconds! This would make a great introduction to sorting networks. Other card games included finding the correct order to create a patterned sequence of card playing and building the tallest house of cards.

The bulk of the day was spent discussing gender issues and stereotypes that threaten women and under represented minorities, keeping them from taking computer science courses. There were some surprising statistics and a lot of data points, but I did come away with a page of action plans.

I'm going to try and redecorate the lab into a more neutral environment, not quite so geeky and man cave like. I also want to try and be more encouraging, praising students' efforts and celebrating their achievements. The focus needs to shift from a strictly graded, hurdle jumping to more of a skill development setting. That will allow for student work to be showcased to the public and soft skills to be enhanced; such as communication skills and more time for reflection.

Overall it was a very pleasant start to a three day workshop. Food was excellent, rooms are nice and the company enjoyable. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's sessions.

Purdue Tapestry Facebook Group
Purdue Tapestry Twitter Feed

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I Can't Drive 55

Today was Josiah's first day of Driver's Education classes. Three hours every day in the classroom for two weeks and then he hits the road.

As we were out driving around this afternoon, Amy kept asking him what all the various street signs meant. After a while, we noticed both kids critiquing mom's driving habits. Amazing how quickly kids can become experts!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Garden Surprises

Radish from the garden.
After being gone for three weeks, the garden is full of surprises, you just have to look harder to find them.

Several of the blackberries have started drying up, but enough were ripe to eat that we could split a small bowl between us. There are a handful still ripening too so we'll keep watching them. I was surprised the birds and squirrels hadn't eaten more.

The radishes have started blooming and grown almost two feet tall! When we left, they were barely a few inches above ground. Several of the plants have been duds, but we've found a few edible bulbs.

I started wrestling the yard back into control by mowing the grass and trimming back the mint. Everything is really in good shape, just ragged around the edges.

Elementary Yearbooks Have Arrived

While I was in the office today, a box from Herff Jones was delivered, and it was the elementary books! Even though there is nothing I can change about the book after it's printed, I still get a bit nervous opening the box up - kind of like Christmas!

Even though there quantity of photos to choose from was limited and there should be more copy, the books look nice. I hope students and parents are pleased.

This was the last elementary book for one of my own kids. I brought her copy home and she spent several hours looking through it. She commented about the inclusion of photos that she took.

That has me thinking of ways to devise photo contests for the elementary. Then the book would have their own photos and we wouldn't have to work around high school student schedules.