Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The joy of teaching in Iraq

I thought this was very interesting:


Merry belated Christmas and Happy New Year to all

May this be a time of reflection and love.

We traveled to Dallas and then Kansas in a whirlwind half-way around the country. We had an opportunity to visit our daughter and her fiancĂ©e in Dallas as well as our son and his wife and our grandchildren.

Fast, focused, but worth it!

Thank you everyone for hosting us...

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Mineralogy Test

Into the second of the last six weeks! Time is going by so fast!

Merry Christmas!

Our Koda!  Merry Christmas

Saturday, November 13, 2010


A very interesting concept... See the Article at the Wall Street Journal

Waiting for Superman? May be.


After completing 12 weeks of school - Veteran's day was a wonderful break - I kidnapped the wife for a couple of days off and we saw a wonder Vegas show:

Thank you to all our veterans for your love, sacrifice, and service. While at the Tropicana we saw a multitude of Marines celebrating Veteran's day - congratulations to all of you particularly those in the field! May God bless you and your families.

We will never forget!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

10-10-10 @ 10:10

Our friends Joan and Joe were wed this beautiful morning. What an incredibly beautiful wedding. Here are some snaps.

Saturday, October 09, 2010


Every year is different. A teacher does not know what surprises await them - this year is a good year with some surprises. We will see how the year progresses. We just finished the first week of Astronomy...  Students have a great imagination:

Saturday, September 04, 2010


What can I tell you? Owners and Koda graduated kindergarten obedience school!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Two Weeks Into the Semester

Time goes by so fast! It has been an incredible maelstrom...Finally, things are getting settled. I have to say that I have great students! Promises to be a good semester.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

History & Science


This map, from the Peter Force Map Collection at the Library of Congress, was created by the Philadelphia engraver James Poupard. It was the third in a series featuring a chart of the Gulf Stream. The latter was well known to Spanish ship captains, who relied on it to sail from the Americas to the Iberian Peninsula, but there were no universal charts or maps due to Spanish secrecy. This map originally was sketched by Timothy Folger, a Nantucket fisherman and a cousin of Benjamin Franklin, who conceived the map and actively promoted study of the Gulf Stream. Franklin published the original chart in 1770 and sought to distribute it among mariners, but British sea captains skeptical of colonial ideas largely refused to purchase copies. He suspended his efforts during the American Revolution to avoid giving any advantage to the British, but at the end of the war he collaborated on a second printing in France. In 1786, Poupard’s engraving appeared in the Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, the publication of the country’s first learned society founded by Franklin and others in 1743.

Essential question:

Looking at historical documents what can we learn or deduce about science, history, and human nature?

Activity Directions:

Please observe the map and read the description. Based on your careful study what can you infer about the strategic use of maps? Here are some questions to consider: What is this type of map used for? What is its value? Why the Spanish secrecy? Why do you think the British sea captains were skeptical? There are many more you can ask.

Working with your group – discuss and organize your thoughts into a concept map. 

  1. Create one concept map for the group: Main idea:  HISTORICAL MAPS
  1. Save your concept map normally and also save the concept map as a “jpg” file
  1. Create a Google Docs document and insert the “jpg” concept map image.
  1. Share the Google Docs document among all your group and the teacher
  1. Each student individually adds the shared Google Docs document to their web page under: CLASS WORK.
Personal Reflection Points:

Add a few personal bullet points of what you have learned to be used in your reflection:
  • _________________________________________

  • _________________________________________
Other personal notes:

Friday, August 06, 2010


Well, I'm starting my fifth year as a teacher... this is supposed to be "the" year according to my principal where a teacher decides if this is the right profession for them. 

Remembering Winston Churchill:

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

It took a while but I am now actually feeling more confident as a teacher - I think I am moving forward - it is perhaps the end of the beginning for me. I look forward to this coming year - surprises and all! 

Thursday, August 05, 2010


Well it is here!  Google Wave has been integrated with Google Apps - so I just turned it on in our domain!  A couple of our super users have been alerted - let see what this portion of our pilot does this year!

Google Apps: A fully interactive/cooperative cloud-enabled applications environment for our school: Word Processing, Presentation Software, Spread Sheets + Graphing, Drawing, Web creation, Forms, Mail, Calendar, and now Wave!  Incredible foresight...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Love it when an idea catches on....

The simple idea of quick-start to UbD is bearing fruit!

Understanding by Design - Quick Start

  1. Identify Desired Results
    1. What are the major content goals of the unit (Content Standards)?
    2. What is the BIG IDEA that helps hang the unit together?
    3. What are the Essential Questions in the Unit that lead to the big idea?
    4. What is the Knowledge & Skills that the students need to master in this unit? (Students will be able to…)
    5. What is the long-term Enduring Understanding that the students will remember tomorrow, next week, next year,10-20 years from now?
    6. How will you share and use big idea/objectives to inspire students to think? 
  1. What Evidence will the student have to show that he/she has mastered the material? Will the student’s evidence of mastery be sufficient to be validated by more than one teacher?  Why plan instruction if you don’t know how to measure it?
    1. What Formative assessments & Summative assessments will you use?
    2. What Authentic assessments will you use?
                                                    i.     Project evidence?
                                                   ii.     Oral evidence? Other evidence?

    1. Which of the assessments will be designed and used in common between teachers?  Does everyone teaching the subject know what these are? 
  1. How will you plan the learning instruction?    
    1. Is the pacing plan in place? Does it logically tie in all the major themes of the unit? Has the teaching plan pacing and strategy been reviewed with other experts?
    2. Do you know and have access to all the artifacts & tools that may be used in the lessons? Do you know if other teachers have similar material that might help enrich the resources to teach the unit?  Is it all in one place or do you have to get it all together?
    3. Do you have to invent new things in order to teach the unit? If so have you planned the time to do so?
    4. Are you up to date on the latest information regarding your unit – so it is fresh and not stale?
    5. What strategic approach to instruction will you be following? Inquiry-based instruction? Student-centered instruction? Tradition instruction?
    6. Are you free to teach to your strengths following your plan?
    7. After your pacing is in place are your lesson plans complete? Do they follow the key SIOP® effective teaching elements?

      Media Site Recording iQuest Parents Meeting

      Saturday, July 24, 2010

      iQUEST Camps 2010

      Thanks to the support of Dr. Hayden and Dr. Ouyang and the iQuest team we successfully completed our  2010 Science Camps for Middle Schools at CSUSM. The wrap-up parent conference was a powerful event...thanks to all the parents:

      For more information visit the iQuest Web site at CSUSM

      Wednesday, July 21, 2010


      As a challenge to get our 8th graders to brainstorm about our day's activities and to create a graphic organizer before their reflection, we opted to use Google Docs Drawing documents. We created a blank drawing template in Google Apps for each team and made the link public with edit capabilities.  We posted the links in Moodle - the software they use in their Middle School classrooms.

      The instructions were explicit to the class: Each team of 4-5 students needed to 1) talk about the day's activities, 2) divide the work so everyone knew what they were to write about, 3) they talked about which part of the drawing area they were going to work on, 4) each student was to individually bring up the document and edited his/her portion, 5) when done, they would talk about putting finishing touches, arrows, lines, etc and get it completed. Reminded them they were working on one common document - they had to cooperate to create a great graphic!

      And we let them go!

      What a positive experience for the class and a great reward of us teachers seeing how things developed. We projected each team's document on the screen and watched as the students dynamically created the graphic organizer of the day's activities! We would switch between the different teams so everyone would see what they were doing and how it looked - which created a competitive spirit between the teams as well.

      As a teacher I am struck how smoothly this came together and how powerful a tool this can be in the classroom. Here is the student's draft's of the day's activities.

      This was done in a matter of about 45-55 minutes from a "blank" virtual sheet of paper. The kids were engaged - animated to work on one common document seeing their team work progress in real time. 

      A couple of things to note - students had to use Google Chrome or FireFox because Internet Explorer does not work with the drawing program. Also, of note is the fact that the "link-edit" approach does not provide the students with some functionality (minor) like inserting pictures or saving the file as a "jpg" picture file.  We chose the link approach purposely because we did not want the students to sign-on to Google Apps which would have been yet another step. In our classrooms however, if they were signed on to Google Apps they would have had full capability.  One more comment is that if the students that had their own Google mail account (personal one) they were able to access the features. So there are many options. With a bit more practice this can be a powerful tool not only for 8th graders but for just about any grade.

      Congratulations to Google for an outstanding implementation that allows us to do this very quickly.   What a great gift to teachers and students.  Do I sound excited about this? Yep you are right! The students loved it - and so did the teachers.

      Try it and drop me a comment...

      Monday, July 19, 2010


      A North County Times reporter came over today to talk to us about our iQuest Summer Camp... got my picture in the paper... :)

      "Rancho Buena Vista High School science teacher Jorge Hirmas instructs middle school students Monday at a science and technology camp at Cal State University. (Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle - Staff Photographer)"

      Here is the link: North County Times

      Saturday, July 17, 2010

      NOW GRIZZLY IS GONE... :( ::::::::

      First Dundee about a year and a half ago - 18 years old.

      And now Grizzly - 19 year old. Kidney failure...

      Both have been great family dogs - - - Aussies rule!

      Monday, July 12, 2010

      iQUEST @ CSUSM

      iQuest is an NSF sponsored activity under the leadership of Dr. Hayden and Dr.Ouyang teaching 7th and 8th graders - Science! Here come the kids... two weeks of excellent experiences, coming up!

      Saturday, July 10, 2010


      Here is our new family addition - a mini-Aussie... What a hoot!

      His name? We went around and around from Stark, to Spark, Sparky, Sherlock, etc...unit we came up with something we really liked: KODA 

      His name means "Friend" in the Sioux language.

      Tuesday, July 06, 2010


      Looking back at an old favorite:

      ☺ / 5

      Roller Coaster Year 2009-2010.

      RBVHS personnel at all levels have gone through incredible stresses and changes in the last year. I am sure we all felt it in some way… we tragically lost a couple of students and a beloved teacher. We had some seriously illnesses as well. We have gone through the roiling relations between the union and administration while maintaining a semblance of order and professionalism in all our endeavors. We had political ripples over presidential speeches. We have lost teachers to the financial and the budgetary tsunami. We had many beloved master teachers and other staff retired – leaving mighty imprints for others to follow. It has been an incredible period time.  I know life is complicated…. However, even as the heated cauldron simmered and cooled we were blessed in many ways. The District and the Union came to an agreement and now there is a contract. A foundation is in place. Student conflict has been much improved over previous years… and most teachers are happy to see the 2009-2010 school year behind them with a real summer break for most of us. Let us also not forget the new babies born to teachers! 

      We are looking forward to a new year: 2010-2011. May His Grace and Mercy be upon us – that is my prayer.

      Monday, July 05, 2010


      TurningPoint Technologies was installed on my portable to test out the student response system I received on loan.  What a treat! It loaded easily and allowed my PowerPoint to be quickly interactive with the clickers... Amazing and I just scratched the surface.

      Highly recommended.

      Sunday, July 04, 2010


      ☺ / 5

      Saturday, July 03, 2010


      We attended a memorial service today for Dr. Edgar N. Lasting - 9/14/1929 - 6/14/2010. One of the points of closure for the family - our condolences to the Lasting family.  Printed were the "estampitas" with "The Irish Blessing"

      May the roads
      Rise to meet you,
      May the wind be
      Always at your back,
      May the sunshine
      Warm upon your face,
      The rain fall
      Soft upon your fields and,
      Until we meet again,
      May God hold you
      In the palm of His hand.


      Thursday, July 01, 2010

      Tuesday, June 29, 2010

      THANK YOU!

      Today I stopped by the sale of some of the items left over from our favorite restaurant in San Marcos. Fryar's Folly closed a while back and Tammy the owner was selling the restaurant content from her warehouse. It is always so sad to see a business go under for whatever reason. We celebrated family reunions, anniversaries, school successes, private intimate chats, etc. It was a place where the wine was excellent and the food divine. Thank you Tammy for the good times - the best to you in your new ventures!

      Here is a link from five years ago...

      If you ever find a place like this one -my advice is, patronize it, enjoy it, live it, and thank God for the moments with your loved ones.


      1/2  / 5

      Monday, June 28, 2010

      ENCUENTROS # 2

      ☺ / 5

      Saturday, June 26, 2010


      I attended the Recognition Luncheon and Closing & Farewell Ceremony at the CSUSM Clarke Field House. What an excellent group of young men. Congratulations to the students and the leadership that made this possible.

      Wednesday, June 23, 2010

      ENCUENTROS # 1

      ☺ / 5

      Monday, June 21, 2010

      Mini Vacation LOS ANGELES

      From history to geology and environmental sciences to was a great w/e!

      You can catch the rest of the pictures at: Los Angeles

      Friday, June 18, 2010

      Here is "the" Plan Summer 2010

      The goals for the Summer:

      • Complete 95-98% of Master’s Thesis Project
      • Complete preparation and deliver the iQuest class CSUSM
      • Complete SELF Preparation for Encuentros as well as pacing and lesson plans
      • Complete reconfiguring classroom: LAYOUT and PCs
      • Complete Energy in the Earth’s System new Unit Design – team work
      • Prepare to teach Academic Earth Science with new Pacing
      • Relax & have fun!
      Providence allowing!

      Thursday, June 17, 2010

      GRADUATION 2010

      Congratulations to the graduating class of 2010 and the retiring teachers - you will be missed!

      Wednesday, June 16, 2010


      Oh! to put this behind us... what a blessing! There was too much noise that distracted everyone from our main mission. I am so glad for all concerned...

      "The 'Contract Ratification' votes have been counted.  Of the 813 ballots cast 81% voted to ratify the contract.  Pending approval by the School Board, the contract will take effect July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2013."

      Wednesday, June 09, 2010


      "Mr. H - Thank you, I promise to send you and invitation to my PhD ceremony..."

      A brilliant Senior graduating this year.... Congratulations Daisy, I look forward to the invite!

      Saturday, May 22, 2010


      We celebrated a milestone this w/e - Chris graduated and is ready to attend CSUSM! Bravo.

      Thursday, May 13, 2010


      I witness and was humbled by the glistening eyes and the soft quivering voice that revealed a depth of love for her students, her disciples, her charges, and her life. She will miss them terribly – that much was clear. After 46 years in the profession – here is a teacher kept young by her students! What an honor to talk to her… Thank you Lynda for sharing a little of your journey!  Wow!

      I found this picture in her web site. Congratulations to an awesome French teacher!

      Sunday, May 09, 2010

      EDUC 622

      The framework has been drafted and Chapters 1, 2, and 3 completed. I look forward to 1) my grade, 2) my chair's direction, 3) working on the project this summer.

      Sunday, April 11, 2010