Saturday, November 17, 2007


In the afternoon sun a long shadow is cast. Giants walk and walked the earth – Mr. Heard a World War II Marine bends over the grave site of Juan Hirmas honoring another sorely missed giant – two men casting a lasting umbra. Oh, that we might learn from giants.

Friday, October 26, 2007


Monday morning 10-22-07 7:54 AM. This is the sunrise in San Marcos looking South-East toward's Escondido and Rancho Bernardo... the fire cometh!

Here is today's letter to my niece as the start of Shabbat:
All is getting back to normal… the fires are under control and the wind has stayed down. We did not have to evacuate… it is sad for our community (the whole of San Diego) because 1000s of homes were lost – this fire was the worst natural disaster in a long time in Southern Ca. 17 people from Emmanuel Faith lost their homes. A physician that works with Cheryl – almost lost her life – she barely got out alive… lots of stories of real close calls. The evacuation was huge – close to 1’000,000 people had to move somewhere… yet everything worked very smoothly overall – the Feds were right on top of things – the centers opened without a hitch – there were places to go if you were out of your house – tents, blankets, food, etc was plentiful – volunteers galore to help people – it was an incredible outpouring of love and money. The loss of life minimal really for the size of the disaster. God is awesome – really. We had help from the Mexican fire-fighters – they brought their engines from Tijuana and the border to fight the fires as well as the manpower to help people – amazing. Stories abound of heroism – to save homes and property as well as lives. It is our prayer that God would use this event to bring people closer to himself – let me tell you there were lots of praying going on in San Diego this week.
Shabbat Shalom.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


What an incredible event to restart my blogging. It has been six weeks since school started and I am well into our first quarter of study. Time just flies! Well today I was privileged to attend the CSUSM Border Pedagogy event which focused on the theater piece written by Dr. Carlos VonSon called “Cruces.” What a fantastic adventure – I had invited my students to the event – and three of them were with me along with Gretel the author's niece. All of this was made possible by courtesy of the generous Dr. Necochea - of course. What a treat! Here are some pictures:

You don't know the border issues unless you understand the reality of the crossing - "...las cruces de los cruces."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


The last day was the cherry on top of the banana-split! The teacher tables and their topics were excellent! They were passionate and enthusiastic about their teaching and use of technology to propel their students forward. It was a very rewarding experience to dedicate time visiting teachers.

The only session I attended today was: Quick and Easy Computer Activities for Science and Social Studies given by Tammy Worcester. What an excellent teacher… she walked the audience through several innovative uses of PowerPoint, Excel etc with fabulous examples! I mean fabulous examples – will use several in my classes. Here is her web site – check it out:

The rest was spent attempting to cruise through the rest of the vendor exhibits – barely made it! 2:30 came around very quickly followed by the last Keynote speaker and the close of the conference.

The keynote was wonderful. Dr. Tim Tyson the principal at Mabry Middle School illustrated what is possible when there is an expectation that the students can contribute value to society now. The success of the middle school goes beyond anything I have ever heard. What a great presentation with illustrations of what is possible. If you read this you must check this out:

Well – the next NECC is in San Antonio, Texas….yahoooo! Congratulations to ISTE for an incredible conference.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007



The keynote speakers are turning out to be the highlights of the conference. Andrew Zolli moderated a discussion with Elizabeth Streb (Choreographer), Michael McCauley (Creative Director), Mary Cullinane (Technology Architect), Dr. Francesc Pedro (Paris-based analyst)

Bottom line is: Our cheese has been moved!

We got lots of pregnant one-liners from the discussion:
  • What if? Can you envision the future?
  • Question the norm!
  • Creative kids: learn first, technology second.

  • In the new paradigm a Principal is now called “The Chief Learner”

  • Be comfortable NOT knowing.

  • Concentrate on the power of language.

  • Think of higher purpose.

  • Your role ought to be one to inspire!

  • Learn to fly!

  • Discovery is a process – ask the BIG IDEAS

The second session I attended this morning was on “Digital Media Tools for English Language Learners.” It was absolutely excellent.

Arturo Guajardo, Austin Independent School District with Susan Monahan presented their experiences using technology solutions with ELL students with great success. The web site is: (I don’t think he will mind, the password is: Arturo)

This was an ideas-rich presentation. Congratulations to the Texas team!


I got to see great teacher displays – wow! Impressed by the Virgin Island displays and many others…

Here are kids explaining to adults the principles of geocaching and how they used it to do their environmental science project! Trish would have been proud…!

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Monday, June 25, 2007



ISTE launched their updated version of the National Education Technology Standards for Students. This was a launch and a celebration of the cooperative work done by many professionals across the world with input from teachers to the board rooms of academia as well as industry.

The message is, “use technology to learn – not just learning technology…” This effort is the collective effort of 1000’s. What I have seen, impresses me – I just hope that in the long run it is not a camel (a horse designed by a committee.) Like I said the higher level labels on the NETS show promise:


The next conference was the One-to-One Initiatives: as presented by Anita Givens and Karen Kahan from Texas. They generously shared their experiences and successes. What is one-on-one?

The Technology Immersion Project is implementing an entirely new concept in educational technology—total immersion of teachers and students in technology. TIP steps beyond 1:1 computing experiments to completely envelope campuses in technology, extending learning beyond classroom walls and beyond the school day.

Check out the web site above (Click on the Texas Icon). The pilot program has turned out to be a success beyond what they expected. As a professional in the field I know what it means to do it right. Doing things right pays off when students have the technology at their finger tips and the infrastructure and programs are in place to support the work as well as that of teachers trained and eager to use these tools to extend student’s learning… Anita and Karen were more than willing to share their experiences. Amazing program.

We need to raise our eyes…and re-evaluate our strategy… Tom… what do you think?


Tools Incorporating WEB 2.0 – missed 1/2 of the presentation – looked very promising. This was a bit more tech-type… I will not comment on it.


This was a total disappointment. The PCs did not work, the speaker could not be heard… the topic seemed interesting: Creating Mind-Maps using FreeMind was not… However – it is “free” you can check it out at:

Exhaustion is setting in….. This was on finding grants and funding for distance education. It was sponsored by a vendor – go figure. It was very enlightening however because there is a multitude and variety of grants particularly in science that go untapped… humm.

V E N D O R - S H O W

What an incredible display of products, colors, sounds, and “grab” gifts galore! I should be able to get my pen and pencil supplies for 2007-2008 without any problems! Should save us money… will make Jill and Varda happy ;)

I am exhausted! T M I ! Lord willing see y'all tomorrow!

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Sunday, June 24, 2007


The Conference started tonight with a Big Bang: The Atlanta Drumline! What an incredible performance electrifying the audience doing their “thing.” The pictures were fabulous! Here is one example:

Ahhh that Canon XTi....hummm I am in love! The band was awesome too :)
ISTE President Dr. Trina Davis spoke next. Her message was futuristic, administrative, and thoughtful. She has passionate about equity in the digital age as well as excited about the new National Education Technology Standards for students to meet the challenges of… “today’s increasing digital world” Lastly she reiterated the great international nature of the organization – I thought I hear her say that over 50 nations were represented in this conference! She is quite a lady. Here is a picture of Dr. Davis taken from the ISTE web site:
Andrew Zolli followed Dr. Davis. He was funny yet very enlightening in his message and his view of the future. Andrew is a futurist (a fancy term for a fortune teller! - just kidding Andrew…) and does well apparently: he is a founder of Z+Partners where he says that, “Ideas are the currency of the future” He emphasized that everything that can be done with a machine will! The question he then posed was, “so what are then humans supposed to do to add value?

What he was basically saying is: What is it that we (translate our students) will bring to the table? He says…. “only the essence of our creative spirit.” This creativity will be the new sources of value according to Zolli.

He explained that when new ideas are required we generally use or follow the following model:

Where in the first box – we are asked to produce/desing/invent a product in an isolated “think” mode the failure rate is 85%. While in the “look” box where the person can go out and see what is required the failure rate is 30%. In the “play” box, the product/problem gets redefined but leads to only a 20% failure rate. “Imagine” does not apply because there is no product… (gotcha!) In any case, he went on to expand that the NETWORK model however is much more efficient and produces much less failure – it means that someone who can freely interchange within the four paradigms is more successful...

This to me is important, but it is also a bit of a "duh!" This really should be nothing new to historians... think back about brokerage and leverage and knowledge that can bring things together: treaties, agreements, large concessions, etc... it is always the networked guy that pulls it off!

He gave another example of the value of networks: originally the value of networks were understood to be value = (# of notes)**2. He says the factor that is missing is participation – the true value is: value = (# of nodes)**”p” Where p=participation. The value is explosive when participation is attained!

He went onto illustrate the demographic transformation of the world and its implications – sobering actually. He outlined the factors of choice vs. complexity and also went on to redefine literacy – as a corollary of all the changes: how will we now “measure” literacy when the world’s knowledge is available on a device available to every student – give them a multiple choice-fill-in-the-bubble test?

He ended with an encouraging note to teachers to understand what is happening around them with themselves and understand their own Biases and Blindness and understand the futures we choose to bring our students.

Excellent keynote address.


Arrived Friday night - staying at the Courtyard Marriot - close to the Georgia World Congress Center. Spent Saturday touring the city... first formal visit: the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. What a treat!

The science behind the orchid exhibit, the "jungle" facilities, the Tissue Culture Lab, precious! After hundreds of digital images - it was probably still not enough... my Canon XTi was still craving for more! It is nice to have a 2 Gig memory card on the camera! :) Loved it!

Monday, June 18, 2007


I will be blogging at NEC; so will many other aficionados... Click on the link below:

Sunday, June 17, 2007


This time nine holes with my son Daniel...

This thing can be catchy! Hummm

And then Ella's birthday party!!! My grandbaby's first birthday!

Friday, June 15, 2007


June 12th – June 14th A UbD seminar/class was held at RBVHS for teachers interested in the topic. This class was a follow-up by the UbD-trained team to start sharing the “Understanding by Design” approach to curricular/lesson development and sharing the goodness derived from it.

Very rewarding and enriching.

“A primary goal of education should be the development and deepening of student understanding” (Grant Wiggins)

The first step is to establish the unit goals (standards) and the big idea(s) that encompass the goal. This is they key first step to the whole UbD endeavor. This “ideas” step is crucial and proved to be challenging and very thought provoking…

Wisdom from a master teacher regarding History big ideas:

“…not a summary but a question”
“…they help us understand current issues”
“…they are worth knowing, relevant now and always”
“…different people can have different answers to these questions”

Here are some for history topics:
  • How free are you?
  • Does power get abused if left unchecked?
  • How do citizens of a modern nation-state respond, overtly and internally, emotionally and intellectually, during times of national crisis and personal stress? [very good one!]

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Jack, Joe, Mike and I teamed up today to play a round of golf - apparently a school tradition as the term wraps up. We went to Castle Creek golf course in Escondido... It was a hoot considering that I have never golfed yet we managed to complete the 18 hole golf course in 5 1/2 hours! We were tired, exhausted, happy and hungry! A nice BBQ followed - what a nice longhorn tradition! Thanks Jack for the invite!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Today finals started at school and they will continue until Thursday June 7th. That is formally when my teaching school year is done! It has been a roller coaster and an incredible year. My students have taught me so much and hopefully they have learned as well. I am getting to fit in with the staff and the whole organization. There is a lot of work to do but also a lot of promise and opportunity. Lord willing I will be back for more in August.

In the meantime VACATION!
Having said that however, the real reason for the entry is to share the letter I have received from the California Commission on Teaching Credentialing. Today they issued me the following:

Preliminary Single Subject Teaching Credential Document Number: 070224683 Issuance Date: 05/24/2007 Expiration Date: 06/01/2012 Authorized Subjects: BCLAD: Spanish, Social Science (Examination), Geosciences, Introductory Science

This is the reason for this blog entry... it really should be my last entry to show what it took to get from start-up to now... Two years later I have achieved the goal I set for myself. The blog raison d'ĂȘtre has always been to create a brief narrative about the experiences of becoming a teacher. Well I am done.
I thank God for His mercy as well as my family who was so patient and loving while I slogged through the program. I am also very grateful to my University professors... what a ride!

Having achieved the "end-goal" I will change the blog from the "becoming a teacher" narrative to "the new life of a teacher" and keep posting in my new position and profession.

Thank again to all of those that know about my adventure!

Friday, May 25, 2007


I am so grateful for the opportunity to witness my student's talents. I was invited tonight to attend the dance show at RBVHS... What a treat!

The talent is innate but I am sure it is cultivated by the wonderful and hard work of the teaching staff. The variegated lights, colors, and dresses as well as the rich arrangements created a wonderful memory for the audience.

Bravo Rancho!

Congratulations to the staff, the students, and specially Janet and Jessica my science students.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


It has been a time of decision – as I faced several work opportunities now that the University work is wrapped-up – I had to decide if I wanted to change schools. After assessing the alternatives – some very attractive, and after much careful thought and prayer, I have decided to stay a Longhorn. I am staying at the Ranch. The principal and my students were of no minor influence in convincing me that this was the better opportunity at this point in time in my life where perhaps I can be more effective in my growing professional life. I look forward to coming back in Fall!

Monday, April 30, 2007


Today was a frustrating day... the best plans of mice and men seem to fall flat in view of some circumstances... :( Amazing... I must learn more and more daily... I am really frustrated at myself than anything else. Lord I ask for patience.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


The work induction model in most for-profit enterprises follow a pretty much proven cycle of pre-interview, interview(s), selection process, job offer. What follows is generally a probationary period ranging from 3 months to 6 months. After the probationary period the employee is considered “permanent” pending his or her on-going performance. Employment at-will means that an employee can quit or an employer may dismiss an employee depending on the business needs and employee performance. It also means that great employee performance is recognized by good organizations and properly rewarded. The incentive to do well increases creating a fine-tuned organization with outstanding products and services. The strengths of the individual are tapped to serve the needs of the organization – always accompanied by proper rewards such that the employee benefits and the organization benefit – always a win-win. There is no employment for life – it would be too constraining to both employee and employer. All of this works properly within the framework of government rules, regulations, etc. and for the most part works well. Industries become world-class organizations.

The standard public school induction model on the other hand is totally different… As I observe and experience the model in the flesh I will comment in the future.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


There is a knowledge sharing aspect of teaching that is quite rewarding. By the way, this does not have to be in your domain necessarily. I came across a generous Principal at a local school that has worked very hard to put together with his teachers a student assessment based on the state standards. He mentioned that the approach was borrowed from a teacher in Washington State. In any case – it is a wonderful tool which I hope to use in the near future.

Basically the approach is to have one form for a given unit to give to the student. So the student will self-assess their progress against a standard. It can be used obviously to drive other pedagogic strategies as well. The elegance of this approach is honestly sheer genius. Thank you Mark!

The student self assesses using the following matrix

Against – for example the Biology: Evolution standard 7. Here is the first one 7a

The teacher understands the ELEMENTS that make up this standard:

The teacher then breaks this down into individual COMPETENCIES that the student will assess himself or herself against:

You can see how this will play out can’t you?

A student has to look at the COMPETENCIES, say, “define a phenotype” and ask themselves,

  • I can recognize this when I see/hear it?

  • I can talk or write about it

  • I can do it

  • I can teach it

Do you see the value of this tool?

It would be a LOT of work with in my opinion well worth the effort to achieve excellence in teaching and student performance.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Time has flown by! The University started late January - now we are well into the classes. The High School has progressed into the second semester which gave me a great opportunity to start the classes teaching literacy as we headed toward the "Universe" in IS 1 and "The Earth" in IS 2. So far the experiences have been invaluable...

Monday, January 01, 2007