Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Wow! Sometimes taking a break from work or school is a tremendous invigorating experience if you choose to follow my niece’s example – Kudos Telma!

In Bolivia - South America in the department of La Paz there is an awesome road that takes you from the heights of the Andes to the jungles of the “Yungas” The road is called “DEATH ROAD” or “El Camino de la Muerte” – no kidding.

The road is used by cyclists throughout the world to test their vim. The ultimate thrill ride!
Check this out – here is my niece’s team going from the heights of La Paz (~13,000 feet) to the jungle, all on a one lane road……… amazing!

Click the picture below for the story board:

Congratulations to the team!

Other neat web links about the “Death Road” can be found at:

Friday, November 18, 2005


There is a presentation Mary Meeker of Morgan Stanley that is sobering! You just heard about the $100 computer… how else is industry looking at the upcoming changes in technology and its implications world wide?

You heard of Yahoo, Google, Skype, and others…?

You will be blown away if you check this out. The diagram is tongue-in-cheek but the implications are sobering!

This is really a word to the wise, isn't it?

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Hear ye, hear ye! The $100 laptop is here! Computing for the world masses…!

Incredible advances in technology and the foresight of a visionary’s visionary: Nicholas Negroponte – the head of the MIT Media Lab, have brought about a new revolution. Keep an eye on this one – check out today’s Gizmodo:

What do you think?

There is something sad about this in some ways, many teachers do not use computer technology, no matter how accessible; in fact, they are afraid of this tool… if it is $100 or $10,000 it doesn’t make much difference to them. Unless a teacher finds value in the tool by himself or herself they will not use anything new. Their lack of vision hurts the students and themselves.

Those that will pick up the tools of the future are those that fulfill a key trait of highly effective teachers:

Openness to and enthusiasm for learning: can engage with a variety of educational ideas with an open mind and a sense of exploration; demonstrates passion for and metacognition of learning across the curriculum and within discipline areas; takes advantage of learning opportunities and seeks out additional opportunities for learning.

Here is a key links related to this topic:

Herald Tribune

Saturday, November 12, 2005


What is teaching?

Is teaching the process of knowledge transfer between “master” and pupil?

We can first ask what is knowledge? Have you thought about it? How can you recognize it in yourself and in others? What does it mean to “know?”

The thesaurus diagram above helps a bit…look at the groupings for the word “know,” To know or to have knowledge of something means that you, 1) can recall/recollect/retrieve information, 2) understand, 3) are experienced, 4) are able to discern and differentiate, 5) are able to recognize and be aware. So if our students really know something – they are truly empowered!

But how do they “get it”? How do they get this “know”?

The pedagogical term cognition can help shed some light into this knowledge business. Cognition means to come to know (from the Latin cognoscere) You will notice how close the word is to “conocer” in Spanish which means: to know. So cognition is the outcome – it is the result of perception, and learning, and reasoning.

Well, is a teacher’s job then to pass on his or her knowledge to the student? This would be something akin to pouring facts and figures into a student’s head. Sure sounds like it would be easy but very boring! But is that how students learn to “know?”

Another term that might help shed light is metacognition. The prefix “meta” just means: about, higher or beyond. This is really the key for teachers.

Metacognition is the in-built skill of an explicit and conscious learning self-awareness; how one processes input through our senses, how one processes the information, how one makes connections with one’s own prior knowledge, how one gains and stores new insights, how one recognizes noise or deficiencies in one’s understanding and how one applies techniques to correct them. Doty, et. al. in Teaching Reading in Social Studies for example say, “Effective readers who have learned metacognitive skills can plan and monitor their comprehension, adapting and modifying their reading accordingly. Struggling readers need to be taught how to monitor their thinking as they read and how to select appropriate strategies to help them when needed.”

So what is a teacher supposed to do - really? If metacognition is student’s internal process of a learning self-awareness what is the teacher’s role? To enable the process of course!

I love the succinct teaching of Dr. Howard Hendricks, he says, “the way people learn determines how you teach” Wow – how simple and direct.

He says,

Teach students how to think

Teach people how to learn

Teach people how to work

The teacher must be a motivator; and the learner is primarily an investigator, a discoverer, and a doer. Teach to THINK, LEARN & WORK by helping students master:





What is your take?

Thursday, November 10, 2005


This saying, "Se hace caminos al andar" translates literally to “Roads are made by walking.” But the rich meaning of the words in Spanish of course imply more than the literal translation. The saying means that when you walk, take action, move in a direction you trail blaze, you open new roads, you move forward – it is a poetic observation of life. I have been running into this saying several times this semester. First I encountered in my BCLAD class with Juan Necochea – his sister sang the melody at the pedagogical conference earlier in the semester - beautiful. I also encountered a great blog with the same name in New York by Nani.

Where does the saying come from? I am sure most Hispanics know but I admit that I did not. So I did a bit of research and found that was written by Antonio Machado (1875-1939). Machado is the accomplished Spanish poet a close friend of Ruben Dario who wrote:

Todo pasa y todo queda,
pero lo nuestro es pasar,
pasar haciendo caminos,
caminos sobre el mar.

Nunca persequí la gloria,
ni dejar en la memoria
de los hombres mi canción;
yo amo los mundos sutiles,
ingrávidos y gentiles,
como pompas de jabón.

Me gusta verlos pintarse
de sol y grana, volar
bajo el cielo azul, temblar
súbitamente y quebrarse...

Nunca perseguí la gloria.

Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino y nada más;
caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.

Al andar se hace camino
y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca
se ha de volver a pisar.

Caminante no hay camino
sino estelas en la mar...

Hace algún tiempo en ese lugar
donde hoy los bosques se visten de espinos
se oyó la voz de un poeta gritar
"Caminante no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar..."

Golpe a golpe, verso a verso...

Murió el poeta lejos del hogar.
Le cubre el polvo de un país
Al alejarse le vieron llorar.
"Caminante no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar..."

Golpe a golpe, verso a verso...

Cuando el jilguero no puede cantar.
Cuando el poeta es un peregrino,
cuando de nada nos sirve rezar.
"Caminante no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar..."

Golpe a golpe, verso a verso.

The CD Cantares by Rosalia Necochea is beutiful, click on the image below to hear a snippet of the song:
Contact her at (951)312-8706 if you wish to order the CD.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


While covering the subject of writing in our literacy class we discussed our selective reading of William Zinsser’s book, Writing to Learn. This is the paragraph that highlighted for me an important observation:

“Back when some of us were concerned about why Johnny can’t write,” Professor McRostie told me, “a psychologists put it to us that Johnny can’t reason, and I’ve been preoccupied with that thought ever since. The first two books I assigned last term were, the Art of Thinking, by Vincent Ruggiero, and Reasoning, by Michael Scriven. This is the generation that has spent fifteen thousand hours watching television, and its attention span is short. I’m challenging my students to find their powers of reasoning.”

I mentioned to my peers that we no longer seem to have time to really think things through… we are all so busy just tasking like the proverbial squirrel. It made me think that it is a societal issue, isn’t? The magazine Darwin ( has an article titled: “The Value of Thinking” with a subtitle: Ideas are not in short supply. But thinking them through is not valued enough. They recommend that managers should encourage their people to:
  • Talk about the need to think
  • Invite people to think
  • Learn from thinking
As teachers we ought to do the same of course, but the whole thing reminded me of the wisdom of the past. If you are a history buff (which I am) and a computer aficionado (which I am) do you remember who else actually had embedded into their corporate culture the motto: “think”? Do you remember the company?

Well it was brought over from a company called National Cash Register (NCR) back in 1914 to a new company called Computer-Tabulating-Recording-Company by Thomas J. Watson. That company was the forerunner of today’s IBM.

Do you think it is an accident that they named their laptop computers: IBM Think Pad?

And now you know the rest of the story….

Friday, November 04, 2005


“History in the making….” have you heard that expression? Of course, everyone has; the trouble is what if you miss it? What if history passed you by? It always becomes harder to recover it; doesn’t it? Primary sources are gone, people’s memories fade – you get the picture…or not!

Take for example Rosa Parks – one of the icons of the Civil Rights movement. She passed away this past month – and the country mourned her. Will new generations know and remember her? I hope so. It is up to us history teachers to keep her contributions vibrant and in perspective – we should make sure Americans never forget. May she rest in peace – heaven and earth are richer places because of her.

On a lighter note… I occasionally come across some great discoveries – of all places at garage sales! (Honestly – I hate shopping, but I break for used books and old items of interest). In any case, I picked up a box full of old “78” records a while back for I think a few dollars. Well I did not know I hit the jackpot! I have literally over 100 old records some dating all the way back to the early 1900s! And the music? – all kinds, from country to jazz, to blues, to classical. And the labels? – you name it: Odeon, Capitol, Okeh. Decca, Victor, etc. How about the artists? – Bing Crosby, Gene Autry, “Fats” Waller (Jazz), even Caruso – yes THE Caruso. Here is one example:

This is a first recording of Gene Autry’s signature song: “Back in the Saddle Again” I would have never thought I would own it! Pretty cool – huh? Then you start thinking about it – this would make a great lesson for the kids… This recording dates back to 1939 – just before World War II. A technique to trace history is to look at the life of one individual, so why not Gene Autry? You can learn a lot! Who was Gene Autry prior to 1939? What did he do after 1939? What was Texas, Oklahoma and California like when he lived there? How did it change during WWII? What did Gene Autry contribute to the war effort? You can even introduce some fun stuff like - can you trace “Back in the Saddle Again” in a new movie? (Sleepless in Seattle) Why was this particular record selected – was it important, why?

Great possibilities you have to admit – you can also engage the kids in the history of technology 10” 78 RPMs vs today’s CDs and podcasting. You can even create a project to “clean” up the sound of a 78 – and digitize it to a CD as a way of preserving history. Well – ? Yeah, it would work. Of course you would need one of these…

And yes – this record player has four speeds: 16, 33, 45, 78 RPMs– I bet most of you have never heard of a 16 rpm record?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


As you know I am a fan of Visual Thesaurus – today they had a take on how foreign expressions get integrated into the language – the word is CALQUE (pronounced “caalk”). Calque means: an expression introduced into one language by translating it from another language.

Calque sounds like the Spanish word “calcar” – which means to trace over, to delineate or copy something. Anyway, here are some calques – enjoy!

Blue Blood from the Spanish: Sangre Azul
Potpourri form the Spanish: Olla Podrida (Rotten Pot)
Chop chop from the Chinese: Quick Quick
Flea market
from French: marché aux puces

Can you think of others?