Saturday, September 23, 2006

Educational Technology

I am looking forward to learning more about blogging and publishing on the internet. I have been actively involved in finding out how elementary teachers apply this piece of technology to their classroom and how they engage their students with this idea.

Alan November, leader in educational technology, will be speaking at our school in October and I am eager to hear his words and ideas. I am certain that the educators that attend will become inspired and possibly overwhelmed with the breadth of information. We have breakout sessions scheduled after the presentation that are designed to allow each of the teachers to choose a class they would like to devote their time and energy to. With my interest being focused on writing and technology, I will be attending the session called, "How to publish your writing on line." I believe the sessions last about an hour and half.

We have a class at our school called Ultra Key, where the students work on typing skills for 30 minutes. I would like to convert this chunck of time for my class into an opportunity to utilize blogs. So, at this point I am at the crossroads as to how to implement such a plan. I am anticipating that most of my questions and concerns will be answered during the breakout session however, I need to think of my students safety first and foremost when dealing with the Internet. Am I going to have to purchase a license to use a particular blogging site? How will I begin such a project? Will I post a question for the students to write about? Will I use some content from the lessons?

I guess I am not so much worried about the content as I am the logistics of it all. Administrative and parental support, time in the computer lab, and just the "how to" of it all are really my major concerns. So, I search the blogs for other teachers that utlize this technology and welcome any guidance from anyone on how to implement blogging into the lives of my fifth grade students.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Waterskiing


Waterskiing at dawn when the still chilled waters reflect the crimson colors of the crisp fall foliage is a moment where I wish time was not so relentless. I pause, close my eyes for but a moment and exhale slowly watching the fog of my breath drift above my brow. I boldly stand atop the dew drenched stern and prepare to dive into the calm waters. It's always difficult to determine which of us will taste the sweet morning air first from behind the boat. Today, this day, it has been determined that I will be the first to carve the untouched waters.

I am well prepared for this moment. My wetsuit shorts are firmly pressing against my cold skin, gloves snug around each finger, lifevest buckled with neatly wrapped straps and a boat with a full tank of gas. My 42 foot ski rope has been double checked for any hidden knots and I grip the seasoned handle like the Great Bambino and his mighty bat. And then finally, sliding silently from my reluctance I take the plunge into the cold water and effortlessly float back to the surface.

There is something magical about those two or three seconds where your body first meets the morning water. Perhaps it's like a baby in the womb completely surrounded, safe, and secure with a muffled silence. As I rise out of the water and refill my greedy lungs I find the waterski floating next to me. It had been carefully placed in the crystal clear water and nudged in my direction.

The rope slowly begins to slide through the water like a snake in the grass. I quickly find my balance while gripping the ski handle and all of a sudden there is tension in the rope. The fumes from the boat motor linger and fill my nostrils as I am slowly being dragged along. The driver, a well seasoned waterski veteran, has a firm grip on the boats throttle and is patiently waiting the for the word. I take one last breath, and holler, "Hit it!"

The morning silence broken, the calm waters tainted, and my heart pounding and pushing the warming blood through my veins. The day has begun, the day has begun.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

How's Your Blood?

Five years of being a pin cushion in the United States Marine Corps and this is how it all ends, passing out during a simple blood test.

It was quite painless really, as I slid out of the chair and my head bounced off the floor. It was 7 am and I was getting some blood drawn for a routine test when all of a sudden I woke up with a stranger standing over me wearing a winter white outfit with bright red hair and a blushing face to match. While still holding the needle, the nurse kept asking me if I was alright when I finally realized what had happened. Needless to say, I didn't leave their office in a hurry.

For some bizarre reason, I pass out during a simple blood draw and let me tell you, it is quite embarrasing. Oh sure, I use humor as a strategy to cope with such an uncomfortable situation but it never seems to be received very well by the nurse that is gazing at my arm for the "best vein." I have some pretty descent lines to like, "I'll see ya on the other side, or guess I can never be a herione addict."

About 10 years later my wife convinces me that I should get my blood tested again. Of course my sarcastic response sounds something like, "Sure, I will get right on that." She knows I pass out, she knows I detest the needle, she knows I really can't stand the Doctor's office. So, why on God's Green Earth would she suggest such an awful idea? I know, I know, women seem to be right up to date on all their shots and annual visits and feel that men need to have their time on the table too. Well, when I go in my time is prety much spent on the floor. Anyway, I reluctantly went to see him and when they called my name after waiting an hour in the lobby I probably looked like a criminal from death row walking to his demise.

The "Oh so nice nurse" offered me a seat in the "chair" that has those incredibly grovy elbow rests built right in. Despite the comfort that these chairs would surely offer I respectfully declined and requested a table to pass out on. They honored my humble request and let me tell you, this table was as cold as ice, probably an old table brought up from the morgue now used in the blood lab. Anyway, I survived the needle and lived to tell the tale, however the plot thickens a week later when I get the results of the infamous blood draw.

The follow up appointment didn't really go as planned. The Doc enters the rooms and says to me, "Mr. H. I have some good news and bad news for you today, which would you like first?"

I reluctantly respond with, "Alright Doc, start out strong with some good news."

The Doc replies with a gentle gleam in his eye, "You have two months to live!"

As you can imagine, my jaw dropped reaction was, "Good God Doc, if that is the good news what is the bad news?"

This time without a smile on his face, "Well, I guess you will die." I thought to myself that this simply can't be good. Intellectually I realize that we will all die someday but come on, two months. He then went on to tell me that I could possible increase the likihood of my life if I were to experience a complete paradigm shift of my lifestyle. Meaning the way I am doing business now will force me to close my doors and shut down the shop, terminally.

OK, so I am exaggerating for effect. The Doc didn't say those words quite like that but he did paint a pretty descent doom and gloom picture for me. My disfunctional eating habits and lack of physical exercise has brought me to the brink of death without me completely realizing the fact. Well, sure I knew that eating a sleeve of double thick chocolate chip cookies and a tall glass of ice cold milk at 2 AM isn't good for me, but come on you have to admit that food tastes best between the hours of Midnight an 4am.

The test resuls were as follows: HDL's, or good cholestrol is virtually gone, which is a bad thing. My triglycerides are maxed out at 191, which is an extremely bad thing. My liver functions are so high that the report read "Panic" in bold print next to those results, which is an incredibly bad thing. Finally, the icing on the cake, the cherry on the ice cream, and the syrup on my pancake (All of which I use to eat on a regular basis) my glucose, or sugar level is 7 points from Diabetic, which is an irreversible thing. That is just wonderful. I am literally eating myself to death. I am like an alchoholic but my vice is food.

So, I end this terrific tale only to ask the unaskable question, "How's Your Blood?"