Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

Thought I was finally gone, didn’t you?

Well, I’m not gone yet, just very very busy.

I also think I’ll start adding new things, especially during the school year.  For example, here’s something I would like to do more of . . . Scenes from the School. 

Scene from last night’s school dance.

Mr. Cates, our music teacher on the mic: Okay, here’s a classic to dance to!

(Starts playing “Eye of the Tiger)

(My 5th grade Students start running over to me)

Students: You need to dance to this, it’s a classic!!!

Me: Wait, I have to dance to this because “it’s a classic?” So when you think “classic” you immediately think of me?!

Students: Yes!

Me: Is this because I’m old?

(Students start laughing)

End scene.


I’ll exit stage left now.

Still Here?

January 8, 2016 Leave a comment



Me, realizing that school starts up again on Monday. And it’s the 3rd Quarter of School

Okay, so consistency has never been something I’ve done on this site for, well, a consistent period of time.  But that doesn’t mean I give up on it!

Anyway, here’s a few new photos to keep you interested (at least I hope) in the site.  I may, or may not be doing something more with photography soon.  I’m also still going to use this site to talk education as well, especially here in Nevada . . . and especially in light of all the recent news that has been happening.  News like “rankings” and Bills for spending more on education and the like.

Sand Harbor 1.1.16

Sand Harbor on New Year’s Day

Winter at Mayberry Park

A recent picture of Winter at Mayberry Park

Again, I’m on Instagram if you’d like to see more or on 500px.  Again, I may just keep this blog for education and general information while I may start another primarily for photography.  We’ll see though!

Summer Almost Gone

July 27, 2014 1 comment

My reaction when I realized there was only one week of summer vacation left . . .



So, with the realization that I would be heading back to work (fully immersed, I should say . . . I have been going in during the summer for a few hours here and there), there are a few things I’d like share.  These aren’t really “classroom hacks” in a sense, but there are a few things I use in the classroom that’s based on technology.

1) Splashtop

I think the Splashtop App is a very useful tool, especially if you use an iPad (or even iPhone) in the classroom and if you have an Interactive Whiteboard you can sync it with.  It’s very convenient since the Splashtop App essentially streams your desktop onto your iPad, so you can manipulate your ActivBoard on your iPad.  It’s very handy during a presentation so you can walk around the classroom to monitor behaviors if necessary.

2) Padlet

This website is accessible for both iOS and Windows systems.  You can also adjust any sort of discussion or conversation topic within the site itself after you’ve set up something for the students to talk about.

3)  SMS Generator

I don’t use this often, but I do introduce it to the kiddos.  If someone from the class has a chance to work on some enrichment activities, sometimes I let them try to create a text message conversation between any of the historical or literary figures we’ve been studying.

Those are just three of the things we try to incorporate within the flow of the classroom.  The Splashtop App is probably the one I’ve used the most for this past year, especially since it allows me to roam the classroom instead of just standing in front of the class during a Prezi.

Any other teachers out there have ideas to share? 🙂

Photo a Day

Here are some of my favorites from the past week in terms of photographs.  I feel I’m getting “somewhat” better at photography, though I still have loads to learn.


Downtown Reno











Mayberry Park . . . the Sunflower is actually giving a thumbs up!


Thomas Creek Road. Still within the city limits, but looking somewhat rural in South Reno.

Summer is Fading

With the new “balanced-calendar” scheduling, teachers report back during the first full week of August, which leaves me with little over two weeks left before going back to work.

While it’s a bit disappointing, I’m fine with coming back to work.  Well, for the most part.  I’ll miss the idea of being able to sleep in (honestly, even during the summer, I still manage to wake up at around 6 o’clock or even 5 a.m.!) but I’m also looking forward to helping out with another class.  Last year’s class manage to come together for the most part and I was extremely proud of how they managed their growth during the course of the school year, both academically and as citizens of our community.  It was absolutely fantastic to see.  The challenge, of course, is to see if you can do it again.  That’s always a great motivator for me.

Anyway, to continue with the summer!

But first, another disappointment.

I was planning a little trip to Los Angeles to visit friends.  I was going to leave this week in fact.  I was excited by the opportunity to hang out with some of my oldest friends, taking in the sights and sounds of Southern California.  But sometimes, the best laid plans of mice and men . . . often get small chunks of rock thrown violently against the windshield of your car, enough to where is breaks the first layer of your windshield to cause a splinter pattern of cracked glass that’s beyond repair.  The only option is to replace the windshield and the replacement windshield isn’t coming to the glass installation company until later this week.

So much for the trip.

Anyway, on to some other, more positive things!

For this entire year, starting on January 1st, I’ve made it a goal of mine to take a picture for each day of 2014.  In retrospect, I should’ve been writing on this blog the entire time I was doing it, just to explain some of the things that happened to me as I was exploring Reno, Sparks, and both Nevada and California.  So I think I’ll do that.  Maybe not everyday, but on a day where there’s more to the picture, where the story behind it needs to be told.

For now, I’ll leave you with some favorites of the past week.  Hope you enjoy!  In case you’re wondering, I do have an Instagram as well as an account with 500px if you’d like to follow along.


From a scenic viewpoint at Lake Tahoe


Rose Garden at Idlewild Park in Reno


More from the viewpoint at Lake Tahoe









Tahoe Scenic Viewpoint

More from the scenic viewpoint at Tahoe

Summering. That’s a Verb, Right?

Last weekend was the annual Art Club Field Trip to the Nevada Museum of Art.  It was also the first time Room 55 Students had a lesson taught to them by one of the docents of the Art Museum.  Normally, I’d take the students through the museum itself and then have lunch at a local restaurant.  This time, however, the Nevada Museum of Art was kind enough to let us participate with the guided tour and time within their studio.  A big shout-out to the Nevada Museum of Art.


At the entrance of the Museum


If you’re a local or just a resident of Washoe County or the surrounding areas (Carson/Douglas . . . where you at!), I definitely recommend visiting the Museum.

Currently, the museum is showcasing two things:

  1. There is a collection on loan from the Haukohl Family who apparently own the largest collection of Baroque Pieces in the United States.  Very impressive collection.
  2. There was also a collection from Doris Duke’s home in Hawaii.  Now known as Shangri-La, it is a center for the study of Islamic Art and Culture.

Funny thing about that .  .  .

. . . I used to live in Hawaii and had no freakin’ clue this was there!  Of course, I was probably occupied with doing 10-Year-Old Boy stuff when I lived in Hawaii, but still!  Definitely a place I want to see if I manage to make it back to Hawaii 🙂


New Installation!

Anyway, I thought the visit went great.  It was awesome to see as many students come to the field trip during the summer, especially some of the students who haven’t been in my class for a few years!  However, once they’ve gone through the class, they do have that privilege of coming back on the trip, if I manage to stay in touch with them!



Some of the kids in front of the Blossom


Anyway, we finished our trip with the Art Lesson, which centered around creating mandalas using a heavier weighted foil paper.  There was also talk of geometry, especially defining asymmetrical design.  I was happy the students could define “symmetrical” and sort of arrive at the conclusion that “asymmetrical” mean it wasn’t.  As far as the embossing lesson itself, I’ve seen done before with embossing dragons (which I think I’ll do as a lesson next year) but this was a great application as well!

Naturally . . . I took some pics of the Art Project as well 🙂


For a simple project, there were some very intricate designs by the students 🙂











Lots of hard work went into this one 🙂


This one was creative, I thought 🙂


This was beautifully executed!

We finished the day at My Favorite Muffin and Bagel 🙂  In all, a very fun little excursion into the city.  I just hope the kiddos had some fun with it as well.

Now . . . it’s time to travel.  And I think I’ll write more on my “Photo a Day” deal 😉


Summer is Here

I’m regretting the fact that I stopped writing on this blog somewhere in September.  I wish I could have kept posting in terms of the progress of the classroom and how it ended up as we closed on the 2013 – 2014 school year.

I’ll definitely miss this group.

They were “maddening” as I once mentioned, not focused, and didn’t understand the concept of perseverance.  To a certain extent, they still haven’t mastered these skills.  But, they are so much better than they were at the beginning of the year.  

There was a point, when we got back from Winter Break, where I asked the classroom “to become legendary.”  I meant that in the sense of not only achieving a great deal academically, but more importantly, learning to become better students and people along the way.  “Level 5” is something we mention constantly in the classroom, a philosophy that states “I am considerate of others.”

With that in mind, this classroom was legendary.

I already have a number of great memories created out the of the everyday grind of the 2013 – 2014 school year, but I’ll just write about the two that are standing out in my mind at this point.

1)  The students decided to throw a surprise birthday party for me, once they learned the date of my birthday.  Working in coordination with my colleagues and the school counselor, they ended up pulling it off 🙂  I thought that was an incredibly thoughtful gesture on their part and it made me extremely proud that they whole class could come together for something like that.

2)  There is a girl in my class who wants to become an astronaut and the exchange we had at the end of the year will be something I remember.  It reminded me that we, as teachers, have a great impact in the lives of our students, and if we are wise in how we use this impact, we can definitely change the lives of the children of the communities we work in.  I told this girl, as she left for the year (though I’ll see her, hopefully, on our summer Art Club field trip) that if she “ever launches, I’ll be there.  Just work hard and if you become an astronaut, I promise I’ll be there when you go up.”  The smile she gave told me all I needed to know.  And there will be nothing to stop me from fulfilling that promise, when she goes up 🙂

With that, we’ll see if I can keep this up for next year.  It’s interesting to re-read some of the things I wrote at the beginning of the year and to see the classroom as they grew and matured into the class I was hoping they would be.

That was legendary 🙂

Categories: classroom, Education, Teaching

Time Marches . . .

September 17, 2013 Leave a comment

Today was the first day it actually felt like the season was starting to turn.  There was a chill in the evening that seem to herald the coming of Fall, which I definitely welcome.  Of course, if I was feeling that “chill in the evening,” it just meant I was leaving work after a long day.

With the Fall coming nearer, it just means that time marches on.  And things are starting to look better . . .

Earlier in the year, it seemed as if the class were taking “one step forward, two steps back” as I tried to adjust the students to working at a fifth grade level, at least for Room 55.  It was maddening, frustrating and very tiring as I came home very exhausted, collapsing into bed just hours after getting home, just to get enough rest for the next day.

Last week, it seemed as if we had moved on to “two steps forward, two steps back.”

Now, it seems as if we’re in “two steps forward, one step back” mode, at least in terms of our work ethic and behavior.  I just can’t wait until the class gets to “two steps forward . . .”

That’s when they’ll understand the potential they have is only unlocked by how hard and focused they work.  That’s when I’m sure, we’ll all have some fun.  It’s starting to get there now, after 5 weeks of school!

Anyway,  onto some other topics:

1)  I did manage to get away two Saturdays ago.  It wasn’t very far, so the “trip” wasn’t as exciting as I’d hope it’d be.  I actually managed to drive up (for a brief moment) to Nevada City.  Honestly, walking up and down the historical district of Nevada City reminded me of Virginia City . . . just with a different environment.  Not dusty and arid, but lush and vibrant.  One’s not necessarily better than the other, but it was nice to get out of the state for a bit.

Next trip, I’ll take some pictures!

2)  Time marches . . . so new television shows to see, current ones to catch up to, and old television shows to say goodbye.

  • How I Met Your Mother – Their last season so we’re meeting the Mother and watching a wedding.  We’ll see if they can send this show out on a high note.  Might have to write about the first episode . . . maybe.
  • New Girl – I’ve watched this show off and on and every time I’ve watched, I’ve enjoyed it.  I know Season 2 has just been released on Netflix, so maybe I’ll catch up sometime during the Fall.
  • Agents of Shield – Joss Whedon.  I’ll see what happens, just because, well . . . Joss Whedon.
  • Longmire – A friend is constantly recommending this to me so I’ll have to watch it eventually.  I’m sure I’ll get to this sometime during the Fall, or maybe even the Winter.  We’ll see.

3)  Dr. Who 50th.

I’m trying to figure out how to watch this.  Honestly, I haven’t really looked into the options so I’ll start within the next few days to see what I can do.  Obviously, I’m excited by the announced cast already, though I guess there’s still a few “possibilities” open for casting.

All I know is that the 10th and 11th Doctors are in.  Definitely curious to see the dynamic play between David Tennant and Matt Smith.  Both Doctors, I felt, were superb and Matt definitely grew on me as a Doctor, like Tennant did after Eccleston.  I’m also curious, as everyone else is, with John Hurt and the “Doctor” he’s playing.

Oh, so much to write about!

Anyway . . . a video, as always 🙂  For some reason, this scene has been sticking constantly in my mind.

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