Saturday, December 23, 2006


I started my job with this comment: “163 students in 5 periods….! No textbook for the class…only the State standards and a modified curriculum… humm – very interesting.”

The humm…turned out to be a very pregnant, “humm”. I just finished my tenth week and I very much welcomed the Christmas break.

Ten weeks have passed as of last Friday 12-15-06. I’m not sure where to begin…it has been like a maelstrom of activity – at all levels: preparing, teaching, classroom management, equipment connectivity, floating class rooms, no place to call your own, etc. What an amazing and stressful experience… I have generated literally 100s of pages of lesson plans and exercises, corrected hundreds of papers multiplying in 10 weeks to over 2000 pages of student work… Sleep is something craved for…Of course it does not have to be that way – but I have been told it is… deal with it.

Slowly tricks are coming into play – advice from experienced maestros is slowly trickling, probably feeling sorry for the hardworking neophyte among their midst…

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Thank you Vets for your service!

I wrapped up my week of teaching with a small civic component for all my periods. I shared a veteran’s day thank you clip by Jennifer Love Hewitt – I then gave my students (9th-11th grade) the following prompt:

Veteran’s days honors those who are serving and those who have served our nation. Freedom is never free… Please think about freedom and science… Ponder about what a free society and science brings to the world…You can also think about the opposite, what a society that does not have freedom means to science… Think about science and your learning – what does it all mean?

Write two complete paragraphs as to what you think freedom means to scientific inquiry, the scientific method, and science in general and you personally.

The responses were amazing… from total trite and tripe to tremendous writing and heartfelt personal meaning… overall, I was very encouraged.

By the way here is a great site for your perusal:

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


My second day – and I got called into the counselor’s office to help out in an SST for a student at risk. Very interesting seeing on my second day at school the process followed to help a student… Not quite the academic exercise practiced at the University, but with the same goals and ideas.

I am impressed that they were able to spot a challenge in the making…

Monday, October 09, 2006


First day… oh boy!

163 students in 5 periods….! No textbook for the class…only the State standards and a modified curriculum… humm – very interesting.

Classroom management is the order of the day – as the boundary gets stretched to see how far they can push the new teacher. Lets see… seating charts do not work well because of overcrowding…floating classrooms and interruptions by other teachers to get to “their” material….hummmm. A kid that gets sick and runs from the classroom ready to vomit… overflowing trashcans in the corner (with roaches) by the time 6th period rolls around… hummmmmm.

And remind me, why did they take prayer out of school?

Teaching – oh yeah! Teaching…. Well, we did a discrepant event demonstration - and it improved as each period progressed. There is hope – I got some good insights from the students – and you can see the potential behind the rough exterior…. These kids are bright.

Thank you Lord for sustaining me through my first day…

Monday, October 02, 2006


My first teacher's meeting last August, introduced me to one of the VPs in the school that pushed AVID - he was positive enthusiastic and wanted our school to be in the forefront of the AVID program. Since then, I have found out that one of our key instructors at the COE has become a fulltime member of the AVID staff... I think this speaks highly of the program! Check it out:

Monday, September 25, 2006


I went over to the district today to sign papers - wow - it is like a dream. I started posting some of my thoughts February 2005 and now 19 months later they are signings me up as a teacher. Providence gets the credit.

Here are some excerpts:

I will be teaching an integrated science (I and II) for 9th-12th graders. I am thrilled and looking forward to being in the classroom. :)

Sunday, September 17, 2006


It seems that the word “outsource” causes big worries in most households due to potential job loss, etc. But if you look at what is being outsourced – it is generally something that is in fact too expensive to procure locally (or nationally) or else is in short supply. I was wondering when this was going to hit the US in the education field – I wonder…

As a previous post mentioned, the UK is outsourcing some math teaching to India. This time, parents are reacting to the need to have tutors in the sciences… so here is the headline:

Very interesting – can it be used to supplement kid’s interests and talents? Hummmm…. Can something like this be set-up with the University of Mexico, or expert students to help kids in the US that have challenges academically? I wonder….

What do you think…. Drop me an e-mail if this intrigues you (Argentina?, Bolivia?)

Saturday, September 16, 2006


I have added the Science Methods class - a two semester commmitment. Also, today, I started the CSET series in Science:

Here we go again!

Sunday, September 10, 2006


I have been fascinated by the topic of the pedagogy and the subject of learning. See prior post on Teaching and Cognition. Today, I came across a very interesting presentation on the "SCIENCE OF LEARNING" with the following conceptual diagram:

The integration of the various facets of learning is what made this interesting in my eyes... This presentation was created by Frank L. H. Wolfs, University of Rochester. Note that the NSF is fully behind this concept...amazing resources appear available - check the web site:

Saturday, September 09, 2006


Part of the pedagogical objectives in the College of Education is to insure that new teachers can learn by observing. The approach is to observe a classroom using a variety of lenses and toolsets that compares the observation to a set of defined effective teaching practices. The net result is that you, a) see real life practice, b) compare it to what is a theoretical effective practice and in the process, c) discern from the experience how you would better perform in your own classrooms.

The approach seems practical.

For example when you are doing general class observations, you look for learning climate, classroom management, lesson clarity, instructional variety, teacher’s task orientation, student’s engagement in the learning process, student’s success in basic academic skills, higher thought processes and performance outcomes and rate every dimension on a proper scale. For example, is the learning climate “teacher centered” or “student centered”? Or is the instructional variety “varied” or “static”? Obviously, observations can get much more focused and intense. (Reference: Borich, Observation Skills for Effective Teaching)

This week we were asked to observe our ELD II classroom (9th-12th graders) at a local High School. After completing the assignment I started to think, does this observation really paint the whole picture of the teacher and the class and the learning that goes on in that class? The more I thought about it, I had to conclude my paper with the following thought:

“…I have to say that observations are a slice in the life of a class as seen through the eyeglass of a future teacher but they, I am sure, are not always exact nor really tell how important that slice of time was in the overall context of teaching the students – so I am cognizant that only multiple observations would give a better sense of reality. This is but one recorded observation.”

May be I am getting too close to being a credentialed teacher... :)

Friday, September 01, 2006


After a wonderful relaxing vacation, I feel like I can tackle the upcoming maelstrom din and churn – I absolutely recommend a good break before the plunge!

Task list: Vista Unified – interview/paperwork, Lab work; fly from San Diego to Philadelphia, three days work, and fly back to San Diego; attend Amber’s new Charter School registration/introduction, picture day as well. Start the university classes – one a false start (no teacher, no syllabus, and no communication) and one proper scheduled start, get school supplies, books, assignments, take care of detail planning, letters, mail, etc. Personal and family matters to address…. You get the picture.

Without a detail calendar – forget it.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


The road unwound as a twisted ribbon as we headed to our destination. Wending through sharp turns and one-lane car bridges up the incredibly beautiful verdant mountain bordering the sparkling azure coastline made for an incomparable drive today. The adventure was in the “way” not in the destination. The “way” included a museum, beach views, waterfalls, a tourist attraction: “The Garden of Eden,” even a hotdog at the road-side stand – all simple joy incomparable – and ahhhh the company!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


After a crack-of-dawn beginning, and the early morning “rush” on the “15” heading to the airport, plus the challenge of the airport extra security and the six hour flight from San Diego the stiffness and drudgery melted away as the beautiful island of Maui unfolded under the wheels of our rental car. The brightness of the blue sky, the ocean breeze, the beautiful clouds, the rise of the mountains brings renewed perspective and vigor! Ahhhhhh finally – vacation!

A moment of rest….to ponder, to think, to pray, even to blog in peace!

This time celebrating the wonderful blessings of a great marriage… our thirty seventh!

Sunday, July 30, 2006


What a summer full of surprises… First about school, the second summer school session is now complete. I received excellent reviews from the teacher and the university supervisor; the students were receptive as well – see the survey in a previous post. The staff at the school was also very kind – thank you Ms. Francis!

OK so I have completed Beginning Student Teaching last semester (European History – BCLAD) and two summer sessions of the Advanced Student teaching (US History first session, World History the second session)… all went very well. Now for the surprise:

The principal wanted to talk to me – and offered me a job but instead of teaching history – I got a potential job offer to teach integrated science! Well that was a surprise! He had heard that I could teach science as well and pulled me in – there is a shortage of science teachers.

Coincidentally I got a second surprise from my corporate job. They are offering a sweetheart separation deal. I have 30 years with the company and it is indeed a great package. The only concern was would they let me go? They made it clear it was completely up to them. My boss said it was 50-50 because I was needed in some hot projects. I submitted my paperwork anyway and last Thursday I got a call that said they would approve it but only after September 29th. Incredible! After 30 years I am stepping out in faith changing careers….

Lots of things in the air – I am traveling to wrap up Corporate responsibilities – school is working with the University to insure that I am properly covered to teach the integrated science course… and in the meantime I have signed up to take the Science CSET series starting on September 16th. I figured I might as well solidify it so there is no question about my ability to handle the sciences in the NCLB environment. I will also take the Science methods classes at the University in addition to my second History methods class.

Like I said, a summer full of surprises – all positive I might add... this is the fulfillment of a long-ago promise!

Sunday, July 23, 2006


I have one more day to go in my Advanced Student Teaching! The class was very interesting - grades are in and done - everyone is passing with a "C" or better. Here are the results of the class survey:
Drop me an e-mail if you wish to get a copy of the spreadsheet and survey document that you might use for your own classes - my e-mail:

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


NECC has come and gone, Advanced Student teaching is in process.... Excellent experience - all around.

Will catch up with the NECC experience a bit later - - - only one comment - it was great to hear the keynote speacker Negroponte from the MIT labs talk about the $100 laptop for deployment world-wide... The stuff is either science fiction or else it is truly a new paradygm that will change the world.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Monday, July 03, 2006


Well, as usual my plate like most teachers, "... runneth over..." I have been looking to the NECC but at the same time balancing all the priorities: First Summer Session, Professional Work, Family responsibilities, etc etc....

Well firstly, the experience of the First Summer Session at RBVHS has been outstanding - excellent support from the master teacher, encouraging supervision plus a great class. Very interesting this class of bright people who well....did not do so well last semester. In any case, it felt good to interact with the students, to teach them the subject and to get excellent commentaries - and achieved a 100% success in passing grades with some excellent performances. They enjoyed learning graphic tools - and they really liked contextual - group work with excellent results...

Secondly, at a personal level - we had an addition to the family, our third grandbaby - baby "Ella"..... Nothing is more fulfilling than to see yet one more generation in the family -

Thirdly, the NECC.... I am looking forward to meeting some of my readers.... My participation link can be found at:

Sunday, May 28, 2006


John Stuart Mill on War (1806-1873):

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

Ever grateful for the sacrifice of our soldiers accross the history of this nation.

Saturday, May 27, 2006


I am lined up to do my advanced student teaching this summer. First summer session is World History and the second session US History. It promises to be very interesting. I met the principals and they promise to be an excellent support group so I am looking forward to the experience.

Interestingly enough there is a new book being introduced – so I got a copy of the old and the new World History textbooks – wow! I got a dilapidated old book that will probably be used to teach the class – but just I in case I also got a copy of the new book…?

Take a gander:

In any case, the master instructor is very experienced and flexible in his teaching approach. I was impressed by his performance in one of his classes. It promises to be a very good experience…taking me one step closer to the finish line in the journey to become a teacher. .

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


A Vision with Action will lead to growth

A Vision without Action will remain a dream

Attributed to Stephen Covey

Monday, May 22, 2006


Here is a great resource for parents and teachers.

If anything, teachers need to be informed... They have the information both in English and Spanish - great resource!

Click below to get to the site:

NECC 2006

The National Educaltion Computing Conference just published its advertising pamphlet in Spanish:

The title of the conference is: “Donde Educación y Tecnología se Encuentran” meaning where Education and Technology meet. So far the whole experience has been positive. The program now lists my presentation “El Uso de Tecnología en la Enseñanza de la Historia” formally:

It promises to be a very interesting event: NECC 2006 San Diego July 5 through the 7th.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


The credentialing universe is not a silk fabric in the space-time continuum, it is rather a sackcloth and ashes process of penitent hard work – some very useful some not so useful.

One of the useful experiences has been the BCLAD program. BCLAD for non-cognoscenti is a certification requirement by state law (California) that authorizes the holder to provide specialized instruction to English learners (EL). The certificates are issued by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) after the candidate has either a) passed a test, or, b) completed a specified coursework. To clarify the certificate acronym, (BCLAD ®) stand for Bilingual Cross-cultural, Language, and Academic Development.

It also my understanding that the whole program is in transition... Find more information at this web site California Teacher of English Learners (CTEL ™)

You obtain a BCLAD certification if you desire to work with English learners – and that indeed was my motivation in signing up for this optional added certification. I understand now that there is also a lucre motive in regards to this certification - it pays a little more so there are many teachers, in addition to aspiring students, that take the BCLAD program.

Having said all of that, the BCLAD approved classes at CSUSM are two semester. Both classes were lead and taught by Dr. Juan Necochea. What a treat! Kudos to Juan and the leadership team that make this possible.

Juan is the most motivating individual I know – he is very shrewd in all he does… he plays himself very low key and then takes off with his enthusiasm for people, music, laughter, and writing! He starts his classes with music and moves his famous quick-writes and then to his stories. He loves to give the floor to others and validates their contribution – no one is exempt. He treats the university students sometimes as kindergarteners other times as PhD students. He is an amazing individual. I grew to like and respect Juan through my observation of how he handled himself and he handled people in general. I don’t agree much with his politics – but he is a tremendous asset to his profession and I feel privilege to have taken his class as I learned a lot from this man… is that a recommendation? YOU BET! If you can take him, take him – you are in for a treat.

The second semester was a special cross-border pedagogical exercise where the classes met both in San Marcos and in Tijuana. The getting from place to another was an experience by itself – but considering exactly the transition that California has gone through with the student walkouts, immigration marches, etc. The timing was uncanny. The cross-cultural portion of this class was well worth the time spent traveling. I ended up falling in love with the Mexican teachers – they are a great bunch of people.

Well the classes are now over, so here are some of the pictures from our last meeting… by sheer accident we got to see a group at the school that was practicing some folk dancing… this was a very nice added delight to wrap up a wonderful BCLAD year.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


There is something important about remembering the past. Take for example the Jews. They celebrate the Shabbat – a weekly ceremony – recalling the act of creation, the moving forth from Egypt, the double blessing in the desert, and the practical act of blessing one’s family. This weekly ritual has perhaps been the most unifying act that the Jews have done for centuries keeping their eyes on God and their families – always remembering their roots. In a like manner historical anamnesis is an important phenomenon in nations. Take for example the “remember” phrases in our nation:
Remember the Alamo
Remember the Maine
Remember the Lusitania
Remember Pearl Harbor
They bring about the collective remembrance of a provocation and of an injustice embarking a nation in a forward moral thrust to win victories such as Texas independence, the Spanish American war, ending Europe’s disaster during World War I, and finally defeating the Japanese and German foes in World War II – moving to rebuild Europe twice in one century, as well as providing Japan with a new constitution and form of government that has made it a formidable economic powerhouse and friend in Asia.

But memories have collectively shrunk, and Americans no longer remember as they used to. Korea is forgotten, the Cold War is a non-event to most Americans, Vietnam is but a festering sore to the aging baby boomers… and yet there are events that will shape history none-the-less and we will remember forever… Although the historical lens is too close – there is one prescient event that might foreshadow others to come if victory is not achieved. Only history will tell.

Remember 911


Where are you? Where are you in relations to others? Where did events occur? How does geography affect history? Do you know the capital of Germany? How does Germany sit among other European nations? How about the United States? Let’s try something simple… Do you know where New Orleans is at? What state? Can you point it in a map?

Elementary? Unfortunately not, as this AP story points out: “Poll Shows Many Can't Find La. on Map” It is so tragic that our students do not have a sense of geography. In my brief experience teaching 10th graders European history – it became clear that they not only did not know their geography, they were not encouraged to learn it. Why? I was told it was something they had not been exposed to and would perhaps be too difficult?

I have to admit I was shocked to hear what I heard. I proceeded with my convictions and did in fact teach geography as we covered Europe during WWI. Was it difficult considering the students did not have any prior exposure (incredible as it sounds)? The answer was yes, it was, but how can you explain the “Schlieffen Plan” without a map for example? How can you point to the critical nature of the Dardanelles or Gallipoli without breaking out he maps?

With all the tools available to teachers and students there is little reason not to touch this critical subject… Here are some references – just in case for your use

World Clock – fantastic reference tool for setting up meetings or finding out what time is it in any part of the world, or even set up a series of clocks for different parts of the world. Great tool.

Google Earth – a 3D view of the world – outstanding teaching tool

National Geographic – outstanding lesson plans for teachers

Perry Castañeda – outstanding map collection at The University of Texas at Austin both current and historical maps - truly an excellent collection at your fingertips

Hopefully this will give any reader a start…

Monday, May 01, 2006


Well even though the prices of gasoline keep rising... the ability to exchange useful information gives the consumer, if not an edge, at least visibility to the prices of gas and allows us to shop more intelligently. Some of my peers commute a long way to and from school - so this might come in real handy... Click on the figure below to get to the site:

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Once in a while you come across an exhilarating story based on a new discovery… After teaching World War I and talking about militarism and the build up of new weapons including submarines, the advance in U-boats, their strategic use, their advantages over other crafts, etc. I stumbled upon a SPIEGEL ONLINE article entitled “The Secret of the Pearl Island” where Jim Delgado has made a great discovery while on vacation!

This is a cool story! Finds like this is what makes history such a great subject…! It is like finding Antonio Vivaldi’s music in a hidden drawer in an old school piece of furniture, or discovering a George Washington letter at a garage sale in Philadelphia – you get the idea…


Thursday, April 20, 2006


San Diego in the summer – what a wonderful vacation spot for those traveling out of state! For us that live in the area, it is always a treat and prices remind us of the cost of living in paradise! This is an amazing place.

We are lucky to be hosting the National Educational Computing Conference this July 5-7

Click on the image above to see the details of the conference.

There will be people from all over the United States coming for the conference and I am sure also a nice vacation. There will be many bi-lingual teachers attending and teachers from other parts of the world that speak Spanish.

I was encouraged to teach a workshop in Spanish about the use of technology in the classroom to teach history. Well, under the encouragement of a professor, I did so and submitted a proposal to the NECC.

It got accepted! So those of us that might be coming to NECC stop by and/or look me up in the program…

......Title: El Uso de Tecnologîa en la Enseñanza de la Historia
......Category: Concurrent
......Status: ACCEPTED

Friday, April 14, 2006


It was a very interesting experience –

Having never participated in a writer’s workshop, a bilingual workshop none-the-less, the whole thing proved to be an exiting experience. The leader is a professional writer – and well trained in her craft. She shared some of her pointers…Here are some of them:

Write from the heart…
Be authentic…
Writing is transparent...
Respect your reader...
Mind the details...
Let it cool...
Writing is rewriting...
Don’t think...

There is also chemistry with the group that is fascinating – a Peruvian, a Mexican, a Puerto Rican and a Bolivian sitting with a Mexican-American creating and fine-tuning our journals. These are great folks – one is an accomplished poet, the rest including me are neophytes but with lots of “ganas”

The use of Spanglish is very interesting…. I have always held the purist opinion that you write in English or Spanish… honoring each language and not mixing the two except in extraordinary circumstances… but not here! I have to laugh…. mixing of the two languages is reminiscent of hearing “pocho-speak” – like our playful Latino College of Education professor who puts on his “pocho” hat and accent and has us in stitches! Even the title of the seminar is called “los bilingual writers” with a mirror image of the “bilingual” in Spanish…take a gander:

Very creative – don’t you think? Am I coming back? You bet – the writing combined with the great interaction with the participants turned the time into an interesting and productive evening…

Well, bueno pues, que nos queda… bye Vato!
If you care to participate contact Irene A. Márquez at (619)384-7144

Monday, April 03, 2006


This is highly recommended... a great teaching moment:

Friday, March 31, 2006


I could not teach my last class… The class had to be re-scheduled for April. Very disappointing.

Why was school closed? Vista was closed because students walked out of class. Why did they do that? Students were protesting. What were they protesting? They were protesting new immigration laws.

As a history student - this is fascinating and without precedent. These are Latino students 13-18 years of age causing High Schools and Middle Schools to shut down in Vista, Oceanside and other cities in San Diego. The demonstrations have been for the most part peaceful (Thank God!) but revealing at the same time. With a bit of luck they will not become pawns of any political demagogue.

Hopefully there will be a realization of the cost.... to the student themselves, to parents, to the community, to the school, etc. Lesson #1: there is never a free lunch - someone will pay.

Oh boy, we live in interesting times.

Is this a tocsin of the things to come? What do you think?

Friday, March 24, 2006


I wanted to catch up… its been a while since my last update, no I have not given up or anything like that… I have been so extremely busy that it has been near impossible to focus on the blog – but it keeps calling me… so here is a quick update.

The spring semester started in late January, on time and on schedule except without me… I had to drop three out of five of my COE classes because of conflicts with my work – Was I disappointed? Very… but I am confident that it is the right thing to do for my work, for myself, and for my family. Well at least I was able to continue with two classes: my Beginning Student teaching and also the BCLAD class. One is behind me now (or almost) and the BCLAD class is on Saturday’s so I have no conflicts.

The Beginning student teaching was a blast! It started with a challenge in logistics, and the school bureaucracy but it smoothed out to a great teaching experience. Teaching 31 10th graders European History all in Spanish proved to be a challenge… I had to prepare the lessons from scratch – no textbook…don’t ask why.

I integrated key pedagogical strategies to engage the students achieving for the most part good outcomes. I introduced power-point lectures (never used in the classroom); we did word wall exercises, cartoon analysis, group presentations, etc. The class was supposedly the worst class in the teacher’s roster. Only 3-4 students were passing the class. I am not sure if in the four weeks I taught were sufficient to turn around the kids, but at least in the unit I taught (WWI) 14 students passed… the disappointment was in the fact that still I had 16 kids that did not do well… I was asked if I thought they could make it eventually - the answer is YES! I truly believe that these students could succeed.

The classroom experience gave me a lot to think about – but of all the things to think about, it certainly confirmed that I liked to teach and seemed able to connect with the students…

Here is an example of a mindmap about history – we used this at the beginning of the class…

I will use the expression I heard in school, it reflects how I feel about this teaching experience: “I am stoked!”