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June 2011

About to return to summer break

We have half a day left in the STEP for STEM experience.

It was good and I recommend it but I was way harder than I expected. PBL is hard and planning PBL within a PBL is hard. PBL stands for Project Based Learning.

I honestly think spending as much as we spent on a two week unit is not good. I am really glad I ended up with a six week project, a more efficient use of time.

Next week is Austin for CS4HS

Sent from my Windows Phone

Didn’t you use to teach at Hillcrest?

One of my favorite questions.  The answer is “Honey, you left, I am still there!”. 

When I was at TI on Friday, one of the security guards kept looking at me funny and finally got courage enough to ask the above.  He didn’t graduate from us, but did finish school.

But yes, I’m very proud of the fact I’ve been at the same school, same classroom for 19 years.

Staff Development

We’re having to do 4 modules (adds up to two days of staff development), three of which are online and one is face to face. 

I just finished the first, on designing multi-level lesson plans and it was by an outside company.  It was short, to the point, and provided a template and a rubric for developing the lesson plans.

It wasn’t anything I haven’t seen or done, but I do like the template and the way things were put together.  Emphasis was on active learning.

I like the way things ended up spread, I do a module about every 3 weeks or so.

Windows Home Server

I have one of the first Windows Home Servers and man is it nice.  However, it started failing, and it may yet continue.

Since the software is SO old, recovery was difficult.  Wouldn’t work with any of my 64 bit Windows 7 Machines, so I grabbed an old Windows XP machine and it worked fine.

I had time to move everything off, and it took awhile, but everything is up and working again.

Why do I like it?  It backs up every system I have set up automatically, and restoring is a complete piece of cake.  You can store data on it, but I’ve moved the data to a more modern server.  Pictures, movies, and the like.

Last project before summer fun

My Windows Home Server has been telling me that the hard drive with the OS is failing.  I’ve had it happen before, and it’s a pain.  Any other hard drive fails, I just go to the WHS, tell it to remove the drive, pull it out and put a new one in.

Unfortunately I haven’t seen a tool that will help, but at least I have the original CD.  Right now, I’m working on backing everything up on it, moving some of it to my Iomega server, and cleaning it up.  Once I get that done, I’ll be able to make up a clean backup, then pull that drive and reinstall everything.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

TI tours

I will be working a project for TI, so today they took us on two tours to two different places.

The first was Kilby labs where really deep thinking goes on. I am lucky as I have met him and been to talks he gave (remember I am old)

Its quite a place and designed so that workers don't have a lot of privacy but lots of toys. Lots of test equipment, but even some labview equipment.

The second was the Richardson Wafer Fab unit.

We have a tour Friday which will be in my old office building.

Sent from my Windows Phone

Digital Illiteracy

I have been reading about Digital Literacy with interest.  While I can’t quite completely define Digital Literacy, I certainly run into it on a daily basis, and at lot of the time, it is students.

I have observed the following which I consider digital illiteracy

  • unfamiliar with the keyboard
  • unskilled using the mouse
  • unfamiliar with common Windows or other OS functions
  • cannot perform a simple internet search
  • can only use one or two programs fluently
  • difficulty following simple instructions

And yes, I see it a lot. 

Our students have are supposed to attend a technology lab during each grade.  Our course there are a lot of pullouts in an attempt to bring students up to grade level, and they do get pulled from the technology lab (common compliant by those teachers).

They are in a required computer literacy course for 1 semester in high school, usually in 7th grade.

Those students who do not have access to technology at home, don’t touch a computer any other time.  Once they get to one of my classes, they have forgotten any skills.

There is definitely a digital divide, and we have to find a way to bridge it.  By the way, this divide hits all income levels and ethnicities.


My first project for the summer is to purge.  It helped that our hot water heater broke and we had to move a bunch of stuff around so that the plumber could fix it.  Well, he moved around, I threw stuff away.

My rule is to go through a space and throw away anything I haven’t used in two years.  Or make sure I use it (thinking of a chair hanging in my garage).

The best part of this purge was to get rid of the old paint cans.  I filled up half of my Escape with paint cans and pool chemicals, and I have to give kudos to the Dallas County Household Chemical Collection center. They rock.  You drive up, show your driver’s license and they take everything out of your vehicle for you.  I swear there were over 20 cans of paint in the garage, which means we have more storage.