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New job...back to the weirdos

Ok - So I have started in a new district, lots of meetings - some with only 4 days notice. This is my 3rd district, sounds kinda bad huh? Well - it is all due to budget cuts and priorities. I mean, I just teach students life skills - nothing that important. I guess some do not realize that "Home Ec" has graduated to a new level "Family and Consumer Education", why? Because we teach more then sewing and cooking. ANYWHO - new district new observations... so stay tuned.

Long time no post

Well, it has been awhile but that is what happens in the beginning of the school year for teachers. I am starting again in a new school district, Menomonee Falls, teaching at the middle school and the Junior High School. I am excited because the curriculum has been created and standardized. Most of the districts I have been in I have had to re-create the wheel. This year I finally feel like I have a life outside of school - it's a MIRRICAL!

Check out the school I teach for: This is the Junior High


Meet our Puppy!

Well, I know that I have sent you all pictures but here is a little background. Cayman was surrendered with her 8 puppies shortly after birth. She was then put into a foster home with a dog and cat. She is very calm and friendly with the neighborhood kids. Everyone who meets her loves her and can not believe how calm she is. Frequently you can find her laying on the couch next to JoeG, they make quiet a pair!

She was spaid on Monday and is moving very slowly and a little out of it, but we still love her!


Vegas Baby Part 2

Well, Here are a couple more classic moments:

She lost her top! Yikes!

Don't you just love digital cameras?!

Look at me.... look at me... If you have not seen Defending a caveman you should, it will enlighten you on how men and women communicate.


Vegas Baby

Awhile ago 2 couples started talking about a couples get away and it finally came true - and we let loose! So we can look at some pics that will tell the story.

Here are the six main characters of the story:

The first night we ended up at Margarittaville - and I think we had fun - check us out:

Did anyone win? Yes!!

Look for VegasBaby Part 2

House Update

Well, it's been a long time since I have updated this blog. It might have something to do with the fact I have not had any internet access and had no idea where my camera charger was. So let's show you some pics!






Demo Starts

Hello! My g-ma is out and moved into her new place, I think that she is adjusting allthough now she has alot more visitors. My parents (I should say angels) stayed in the house this weekend and went to town! Carpet is up, wall paper is down and neighbors know we are moving in! My parents got Joe one of those push mowers - no gas or electric, GO GREEN! So that gave him a bit of a work out on Sunday. I helped pull wallpaper and pry vinly off of the hardwood floor. We are plannning to get it painted and the floors done by the end of the month. I hope that we get some visitors after that. Those of you interested in attending a painting party or a moving party please let me know :)


Change in Education

As I get through another year of teaching I start to realize why there are so many older teachers - because the new ones get used, abused and cut! I can not help but compare the education world to the business world. In this business world, you are constantly trying to gain a new skill, get better, improve your "product" - so you can move up, get respected and keep your job. On the other hand, in education all you have to do is stay around long enough to get tenure and then BAM your safe! Then you don't have to get better - but some get BITTER! I am a little irritated with how teachers get complacent accept the status quo of deliver information and hope for the best. Todays child is full of energy and sitting in a classroom is not the way they learn. GRR....


Moving in SOON

Well! May 25 is the day that my grandma will be out and living at her new place - WOW, June will be spent making the place our own! We are very excited! We have to be out of our place by June 30th, NP! No need to stay with those freekin aliens! grrr... We will have alot of painting to be done so if you are interested let us know.


Podcast Review

Geek!Ed! This is a weekly podcast that talks about technology in school. I downloaded one that is 47 minutes long. I guess the easiest way for me to review this is what I liked and did not like.

Liked - I can see myself downloading this to my shuffle and going for a long walk or run and listening to this discussion. It's interesting because the discussion is playful and fun, well as fun as technology talk can be.

Disliked - Tangents, sometimes they get off the subject and they all start laughing and you can not hear what someone was trying to say. On the other hand, it is nice to hear banter, like you are in the circle with them.

Being introduced to this makes me want a Nano instead of the shuffle I currently have.

Content - I learned alot about what other districts are trying out with technology and issues about kids and internet access. I could see listening to future podcasts.


Plastic Bags - JUST SAY NO! (Set to Scarborough Fair)

In memorance of Earth Day April 22

But they are doing this...

So I realize that there is always something to complain about, sometimes the complaining is legit and other times not so much. I also have to consider that everybody's expectation of legit is different - but SERIOUSLY folks it does not take much to get some teachers in a tizzy. Let's take scheduling, which is a nightmare, and each school type (Elementary, Middle and High) has different issues with scheduling. I braved the faculty lounge YET AGAIN and got into a polite disagreement with a fellow teacher who was in a tizzy about scheduling issues. Over the year Elementary has assemblies, Middle has field trips and High School has pep assemblies and finals - NONE of this is a secret. To me it all evens out, but the other teacher did not see it this way. WHY is this something to stress over? WHY? WHY? Someone explain it to me.


Health Care

It started out so positive, talking about what's going on in the Third Ward, good places to eat and then it turned ugly. The other day switching insurance was brought up, and as you probably know health insurance is a sore topic with alot of teachers. I am young, so I don't depend on my insurance as much as others. I figured I need more information, I would like to find out if anyone else has UnitedHealth Care insurance, well do you?

I feel this is going to be a touchy subject and I would like to be able to take a stand on the issue either way.


Are teachers not trusted?

Ok - So tonight I went to a parent input meeting where the parents were able to give some feedback on the schedule that we are proposing for next year. In the past, parent input was not asked for, but this year it is (not so sure it was a good thing). I sat and listened to many comments being made, some which were personally attacking my subject area and realized that the parents need to be educated on some more basics of the education process. How are parents suppose to understand a new schedule when they don't know what we do in a days work? Plus alot of their information comes from their child, hmmm... do we think that could be skewed at all?

Overall, I felt that the parents did not trust that the teachers and administration had the knowledge or intelligence to create a scheudle that worked for everyone including the kids. It's a little difficult to take, but WHATEVER, if there is another listening session I will open my mouth more.

Review: Wikispaces

Purpose: An open-ended document/html page which that can be changed by wikispace members. Usually a wikispace has a dedicated topic of discussion or statements. The space can contain pictures, html and even blogs.

Use: I think that it would take a lot of time to monitor this type of everchanging document. If this was to be used in the classroom there would have to be plenty of time dedicated to etiquette. I find at the middle school level students will put other students down at a moments notice, this could be dangerous on the web. Although, there is an email notification setting you can use so you know when changes have been made.

It would be interesting to post a personal podcast and have a discussion about it. Getting insight on a project or idea from an outside person would be refreshing for the student.

Design: I have a hard time with the layout of the pages. I am sure there is some customization you can do, but overall it is set up the same way. Lots of text on a page, you have to search around for what you need/want.

Overall: I am undecided on if I would use this product in my classroom. Maybe after getting my curriculum solid I could incorporate it in as a why to document what we are doing. Then the students who has different jobs in my classroom could comment on the way they see other peoples jobs and such.


Review: Shambles.net

Purpose: A central website for international schools to ban together and share information. Information from school rules, happenings, lesson plans, external resources for certain subjects.

Use: I did find a lot of information for business education which I forwarded onto my colleague. I did not find much in my area, which does not surprise me, but I think everyone should check it out if you are looking for new resources.
Business Resource

Design: Maybe there is a difference between the cultures but I found that the website was overwhelming and I did not know where anything was. Small text and lists of information, I guess for the amount of information trying to be communicated there is not really another way to do it.

Content: I navigated to an Asian website which had an embedded video from the principal.
Shambles Home

Review: iStockphoto


Purpose: A website that allows people to purchase photography from a variety of photographers who are amateur or professional.

Benefit: This website allows amateur’s to try and get their foot in the door and make money on their photos. Also, it saves companies thousands of dollars in photographer costs.

Quality: This is where it gets interesting. To ensure the quality of photographs on the site there is a multitude of checkpoints one must go through to get photos published. First, you go through an online interview that includes a tutorial and ends with a quiz. You must past the quiz before going forward. Secondly, you have to upload a picture of your drivers license or other government issued ID. Thirdly, you have to upload sample pictures to determine your worthiness on the sight.

Throughout the checkpoints this is some of the information they cover:
- what does a quality picture look like
- getting model release forms
- who needs a model release form (people to buildings)
- compression and noise

Overall, I was impressed with their ability to weed out those who are not serious about sharing quality photos with those who are interested.

Educational tie: Possibly for an advanced digital photography student to test out their work in the “real” world and maybe make some money on the side.


Last day: Princess Cays

Recover, recover, recover - while in the sun of course. It was a HOT HOT day, the hottest yet - thank goodness there was some clouds. Our plan was to work on our tan and we did - WOW and had some great BBQ on the island. This is the cruise ships private island so it was not crowded and you could walk to everything. Later we went to Tequilas the steakhouse on board and celebrated our last night. I loved the brie quesadilla and Joe had the best ribeye steak. There was an American Idol type contest so we went to watch the finale with Meghan and Ben, the winner did a favorite of mine - Janis Joplin, Me and Bobby MaGee. We went to the casino, which I have not mentioned but after that first hot night - the table went cold.

2nd Sea Day

Well - this was a lazy sunning and relax day. I did make it to "afternooon tea" tea and tea sandwiches. Later we went to see another comedian Carl Guerra, probably would be better with an all adult audience. THen we went to watch Karaoke and met up with Meghan and Ben, then we preceded to Skywalkers - the night club and got a little intoxicated on Log Islands and Diet/Captains. These picture only scratch the surface of the fun we had.

Stop 3: Cozumel

Today we started the day a little different, with a run - yes a run. Then we went to Chauka Park with our guide Renae - who was hilarious! We were on our way to do a GPS based scavenger hunt - very cool. Then we ended with snorkeling where we got to see lots of tropical fish, an eel and a statue of Christ under water. They took a picture of us under water with the fishes - but its not digital so you'll have to wait for that one. Then we went to a local restaurant Palmeros and had some great
fresh and spicy salsa and guac along with our meal. Of course what made us the happiest was the local beer we drank - Sol, pretty good pilsner, not our favorite style but better then what we got on the ship. So I gave in to the typical and bought a bottle of 100% agave tequilla which will make Buffett so much more enjoyable this year. Wrapped the day up with a couples massage and dinner at the Italian place on board, they served tapas style and we got to try bulgar cavier. Great food and the service was great. Later we went to the juggler, who tried to also be a comedian and failed.

Day 4: Grand Cayman

Just to let you know up front, this was our FAVORITE stop and you will know why in a second. First we did a Island Highlight tour (rum factory, Hell, 7-mile beach), just a couple stops to learn about the island then the last stop was the only turtle farm and it was SO COOL. I got to hug a turtle and Joe picked up a turtle, it was great. For those of you who don't know this about me I love turtles, I had a pet turtle when I was younger but my brother let it play in traffic (still love you Dave). When we got back we went to another Margaritta ville and we finally found some decent
local brews - and met Corey, the bartender, who gave us directions to Hammermeads - the local brewery - WOOHOOO. Walked down to Hamerheads and BAM we had some REALLY good beer, Joe drank about 5-6 Black Cherry stout and I had 4-5 of the Island Wheat (not like Leinenkeugal). We met Jimmy, the brewmaster, through 2 other local friends we made Monica and Randi, and he took me on a tour of the brewery (2 rooms in the kitchen). We had some food, bought some shirts and a keg of Island Wheat (they did not keg the black cherry) - and Jimmy comp'd it. Well, Joe wanted to purchase some sunglasses so we were on our way and Randi offered to drive us around to get the sunglasses, we finally found some Dolce Gabana glasses - yes designer eye wear. Then back to the ship - again, tipsy and in need of food. Later on we met another couple from Michigan Megana and Ben that we started to hang out with.

First Port: Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Can you say No Problem Mon? If you can you can pretty much get along with anyone in Jamaica. This is our first shore excursion - zip line through the rain forest. Now that sounds adventureous but was even more interesting was the 2 lane gravel, pot holed road with only enough room for 1 car that we took to get up to the top. Scarey and fun - I laughed while others were almost vomitting out the window (that was a high school student, which made me laugh even more!). After the zip line we went to Margarittaville and spent a bunch of money and got just a wee bit tipsy. Of course then a nap was a necessity before dinner and then off to another comedian. Now let me just say that this was not any regular comedian - we was also a magician, blonde spikey haid and covered with tatoos. (His name is James Michael)

FYI - Joe and I will not be returning to Jamaica, it's just not our scene.

Day 2: Day at Sea

Of course a true honeymoon, we laid in bed all morning watching a movie and the ocean off the balcony. Finally made it to the breakfast buffett - SO much food and TONS of fresh fruit!! YUM! Fresh pineapple. Then it was off to get our tan on - oh yeah we burned and it was awesome. Outside of laying in the sun, we also painted ceramics (yes - Joe painted 2 ceramic coasters). Then we hit the buffett for dinner, not bad and still trying to figure out where everything is on the ship. Later we went to see a comedian, Cary Long, very funny. After the comedian we hit the casino and won $200 at craps - I was rolling like you would not believe!

Embarkation Day

Well Hello! Our lost luggage was delivered and we were very happy :)
WOW the ship is SO big!! It is as long as the Empire State building - so it is possible that I will not gain any weight on this vacation! YIPPEE So of course thing first on the agenda is to get into vacation mode with a couple drinks. Of course there is not any "good" beer available so we figured we'd start with a pina colada, then we tried the daily "special" (another fruity drink). Then we figured it out - let's just get bucket's of Dos Equis!!


Faculty Lounge - face lift

Just thought that I would let you all know, I and another teacher have been asked to give the faculty lounge a face lift. We are painting, covering chairs and getting rid of alot of stuff. We have been doing it gradually so that the CHANGE does not shock anyone into cardiac arrest - but suprisingly the staff has been pretty welcoming to the change. Then atleast I can say I tried to change the mood at lunch by creating a warm, comfortable and happy envionrment.

Day 1

Well, unfortunately we are off to a not so great start. Our flight was postponed, not by much, and 1 piece of luggage was lost (the one with all the clothes). I am positive that we will get our luggage before we leave on the boat. When we got to the hotel, it was conveinently located walkable to a Champs - WOO HOO, I figured all Champs had good beer - NOPE! The food was delicious and then we decided to do something that we never do - order dessert, the 7-mile high ice cream cake, YUM. Let's just say my body kindly rejected it - reasons why I am bloggin at 7am on my honeymoon! I guess I usually eat as healthy as everyone says I do, my body could not take the trans fat.
But - I am excited for today, do some shopping - get some clothes and enjoy the 80 degree weather.


Reasons why I avoid the lunch room

Ok - so I ventured into the faculty lounge and BAM it hit me AGAIN! So, a little background on me - I was not a very good student in MS or HS. I know it is hard to believe since I am such a geek now, but I was a C/D student. ANYWHO - I am a firm believer that I did not have teachers who taught using multiple intelligences. Atleast I have a better understanding why they did not teach that way. Considering through my undergrad I realized that education has not been studied for very long. HENCE the need for CHANGE in the way we teach - yes I said it CHANGE.... I know it is a dirty word but GIVE IT UP! I struggled through school my WHOLE life and it took alot of failures for me to figure out how to succeed. I think that now we are expected to do alot more to help students succeed, AWESOME! So I say GRRR to those teachers who do not want to change or work harder. Am I alonng with this?


Use trash in school

When I was in high school I was on the fore front of making reycling mainstream, soon it took off and now people expect it. Now I think that we can use recyclable materials in school to teach creativity.

On Treehugger TV they have a couple videos that show how an interior designer used recycled materials to create a modern eclectic space that is eco-friendly.

Currently in one of my 7th grade classes we are making board games out of recycled materials that serve as an educational tool on earthday. I am hoping in the process the students learn a little about the environment while learning to creatively think about "trash". We'll see.


The House

This is our soon to be house...

This is a walkable bar, in downtown Shorewood (we are Whitefish Bay but 3 houses from Shorewood) The Brit Inn!!

A couple shots of the inside of the house


The exiting months to come!

Ok, so we are going on vacation over "spring break" to the carribean! WOOHOO! And we are planning to spend a ton of time at Jimmy Buffet's margarittaville in Ochos Rios.

After we get back, we will start remodeling our new house by the end of April - we hope. We are exiting to get out of the apartment, I mean we can hear EVERYTHING they do upstairs! grrrr!

I am getting into bloggin because we are talking alot about it in my current masters class, yeah I am on my 4th class already since starting in August. Time flies! If you can imagine this I am going to be even more geeky by the end of the year!

Joe took the bike out the other day on the 70degree day, which reminds me I have to get a bike too!! It won't be a Harley but that is a goal someday.

See YA!

Do we live up to our own expectations?

After reading The Coming of Age article Peter Ford said something so simple that made me more irritated with "stuck in the past" teachers. He said "practice what we preach", how many times have we (adults in general) said this? Well, as teachers we ask students to learn something new everyday, retain it, apply it and remember it for all the classes to follow. On the other hand, many teachers teach the same static content - how much is history going to change? or mathematics? Science theories? Grammar? If the content is rarely changing - why be resisitant to new ways of teaching it? Atleast, I have come across many teachers resistant to change their teaching methods. I mean, how long have we been looking at teaching methods and there effectiveness? I don't think it has been that long, although I have not been able to find the supporting material for this (I remember it from my undergrad).

So I digress, as adults, people, teachers we need to model to the youth how to problem solve by doing ourselves. I am suggesting that we need to learn new ways to teach the static material - or look into how that static material is changing and being affected by technology.

For example, I tried something in my class that I had never done before - so I told the students that and we read the directions together and our first try did not work, we failed, we reflected and tried again - we were successful! Many teachers are affraid to fail in from of the students, I found they saw me as human and able to make mistakes. I am hoping they see that making mistakes is just a way of learning - if you take advantage of the learning moment.


Are you sure you are meant to be a teacher?

SO - I started out the "real world" in a large consulting firm, where I had 3 careers. I had an epiphany and decided to get into something that I felt that I was giving back, which led me to education. Once I got to education I am amazed how many ineffective teachers there are. Why in most industries do people leave when they realize that they are not enjoying or are good at what they do. Hmm... I have pondered this and I think it is all about the pension. So I am still wondering how ineffective teachers keep their jobs - I mean, if you are not good at your job why do you get to keep your job? I am new, still learning.