Archive for August, 2007

Genius Boxing!!!  You have got to try this, but you had better know your math!!!  Enjoy!

The Dip by Seth GodinOne of my favorite people, David Jakes, talks in his weekly post at techLearning about a book The Dip, by Seth Godin. David eloquently puts the education spin on the ideas found in the dip and gives us all some solid things to think about:

“Over the summer, I read The Dip, by Seth Godin. It’s a short book with small pages, but with big ideas. Basically, the idea is that you want to be the best in the world at something. You start out great, all energized, and you start that climb towards implementation, and then the barriers set in, which result in resistance, and then your ability to reach that goal enters into a big dip. The question that Godin poses is this: should you quit, or should you lean into the dip, push through the dip and proceed on your way to excellence?”

David goes further by saying:

“Now what?

Sometimes it’s not possible to make it through the dip because either you don’t have the skills or the resources, something gets in the way. If that’s the case, strategic quitting is the answer, according to Godin.

I’m not interested in quitting if the goal is to be the best.

So my question to all of you is this. Have you thought about the approaching dip? Because it’s coming…

To the teachers out there: What will you do to work through the dip? What can you do to anticipate the factors that will contribute to the dip? What alliances do you need to form or develop that can help to mitigate the dip? How must you alter what you do to provide the time necessary to nurture, develop and extend the things you have learned so that they become a seamless part of what you do? How will your past practice, behaviors, and methodologies contribute to the onset of the dip? How will you avoid these? How will you lean into and push your way through the dip to be the best?

To the administrators out there: What will you do to help teachers through the dip? Do you know what they learned over the summer? Have you learned the same things? What do you have in place to support teachers on those new initiatives? Have you built organizational readiness to support teachers, or will you be a contributing factor to the influence of the dip? In September, will you think of November, when the initial energy of the start of school is a distant memory? Are you planning to help teachers maintain the energy? Are you providing the dollars, the infrastructure, and the leadership to help your school become the best? Teachers can only do so much; administrators have the ability to open the door to more.

And the technology people out there: will you supply that lost or forgotten password ten times, and do so with a smile? Will you answer that email in a timely fashion because behind every email is a whole bunch of kids that need to know. Can you get that site unblocked for that teacher that wants to do more and take kids to the next level?

Look at all the questions. Look at all the potential excuses. It’s easy to see why the dip occurs, and why it’s difficult to get things changed in education.

Start leaning now.”

I’m leaning everyone, let’s lean together! Thanks David!!!

A Dip?


First Day of SchoolFor most students, in my part of the world, yesterday (now two days ago) was the first day of school; however, 7-12 students had a reprieve until today (now yesterday). So, today (now yesterday) I shall deem the first day of school for everyone. With a busy schedule yesterday (now two days ago – are you seeing a pattern here), 😉 that included getting my five children where they needed to be and home, I did not get an opportunity to post here at H I T. It is a busy and exciting time to be in education, and we face some difficult challenges. Nevertheless, we face these challenges together because of kids like my own that you see in this post’s picture. They are our future, and we must not be afraid to do what is necessary to help them prepare for an uncertain world. Problem solving skills must be taught and practiced in order for our children to make a way for themselves. Technology can serve as a tool to solve real world problems, but in order to do so these children need access.  My children are fortunate in that they have opportunities at home that many kids don’t have.  A place to close this digital divide is in schools, but this requires a commitment on the part of policy and decision makers to come to the plate and hit a home run.  I realize this is not a game, but there is much to be won or lost, and my position and mindset is that we go for the gold!

NPHS Marching Band We attended the first football game of the season this evening and the North Platte High School Bulldogs defeated Columbus!!! The marching band performed very well playing the national anthem and two songs during halftime. Our daughter Hannah played her trombone in excellent fashion along with her wonderful band mates. Mr. Bradley has done a great job in bringing this group together and forming a wonderful team of budding musicians.

It has been a full week in the district with all of the teachers back and ready for students to arrive this coming Monday.  I use the term “ready” loosely as we all know we are never ready, especially when it comes to the technology department.  😉 Nevertheless, we will make the best of our situations and welcome those bright shining faces into the schools and classrooms in the coming days.  I sense and see great things happening here in our part of the world, and I hope to share our challenges and inevitable successes as the year progresses.   Test scores are up in the district, and the hard work of students, staff, and parents is paying off.  We must not rest on our laurels but must continue to be committed to continual improvement.  It is a pleasure to be here and to work with such a dedicated group of people that are working together to make this a special place to be and visit.

I also had the opportunity to meet two of my son’s teachers today, and I am thankful for their service and choice to be involved in the education of my children.  Teaching is a noble profession, and I admire those who have taken on its charge.  I am thankful each day to work with such wonderful people!

Please enjoy this short clip of our own North Platte High School Marching Band!!!

Rest in peace Josh…

Posted: August 23, 2007 in High School, Learning, News, Respect

Josh Trobaugh Life throws curve balls from time to time to put things into perspective. I learned this evening that one of my former students from Dakota Valley High School, Josh Trobaugh, was tragically murdered during a robbery. The details are as follows:

“DENVER – A memorial has been set up in front of a tattoo parlor where a man was killed during a robbery on Wednesday night.

Denver Police investigators say the owner of the store was killed after he was robbed at gunpoint at Mr. Tank’s Tattoo Shop near Niagara and Colfax Avenue. The tattoo shop is a few blocks east of Monaco and Colfax.

Police say the two robbers were wearing ski masks and are still at large.

9NEWS has learned the victim was Josh Trobaugh, the owner of Mr. Tank’s Tattoo Shop.”

Josh was a wonderful young man, with a great sense of humor, and I know he struggled in school. We struggled together. He taught me many things in my first years as a teacher, more than he will ever know. My heart goes out to his family and friends and especially to his children. A part of me goes with Josh, the things we learned together, the knowledge we shared, and the respect that was gained uneasily. Josh taught me about respect, and that respect is gained through honest caring between human beings. I will miss you Josh, may you rest in peace until we meet again.

Childsplay I came across Childsplay today: open source (FREE) software that works on Mac, Windows, or Linux operating systems. There are several games in the software that test basic math and language arts skills along with other exercises that practice matching, listen, and memory skills. The activities help children learn fine motor skills as they navigate the computer keyboard and identify specific number and letter keys, mouse, and mouse pad movements. My 4 year old daughter and 6 year old son think these games are awesome!!! I do to, and best of all they are free. Download, install, and try them at home or school, but remember to get permission from your parents or the technology department or both! 😉 Enjoy!

Cubs vs. Giants tonight will change this!



Cubs Win 8_22_07

The Rethinking Schools web site has a fun map game to help students review North Africa and Southwest Asia (The Middle East). Give it a try and test your geography knowledge!

Middle East Map Game

Classroom The new teachers arrived today for training, and it was great to meet these energetic, dynamic, and wonderful souls! From veterans to brand new teachers I was impressed by their excitement to be here and their desire to do their best. Tomorrow will be my first meeting with all staff, and I am excited to share what I hope we can accomplish this new school year. It is definitely a time of renewal, and the feeling of learning is in the air!

Here is a video clip from the local, nightly news showcasing our new teachers and the new educational technology specialist in the district. 🙂

My Old Classroom This will be my first year without a new crop of students entering my own personal classroom. I have made the move to another place in the educational system, and it will be odd to not have a classroom of kids for the first time in 14 years. As I reflect, I know that I will miss this, but I am excited in a different way for this new school year. I am excited for the whole school district, all the teachers, staff, and students that will grace my life with their presence. I now serve all students and staff, and I have the ability to assist and empower each of them to move to greater heights.

As I passed through some schools this week I noticed teachers getting an early start in setting up their classrooms, and I was jealous because I know that feeling of anticipation that sits in your heart and soul as you want things to be just right for when your new students roll in. I know I am where I should be at this time in my educational career, and I will have many opportunities to teach, learn, and grow this year. However, the landscape has changed for me, and I know I will ask for opportunities to share someones classroom with them as the school year progresses. It will be like oxygen, and will help me transition into my new role by reminding me of those precious moments in my classrooms over the years.

Last year I actually didn’t have a physical classroom as I volunteered to reside in a cubicle and travel from room to room (I had done this earlier in my career too but with no cubicle!), but physical walls do not a classroom make!  What makes a classroom are students, and these students for me are now of all ages:  adult learners, high school, middle level, and primary school aged.  They include everyone that I come in contact with, and I also serve as their student in this network of life-long learning.  I guess in reality I’ll miss my small classroom, but not so much because it got a whole lot bigger and provides so many more great opportunities.  That is cool!

I have been tagged…

Posted: August 16, 2007 in 8 Things, Just For Fun

Teton Kids I’ve been tagged by Brian Grenier to participate in the “Eight Things You Didn’t Know About Me” meme that’s been going around. Here are the rules:

1) Post these rules before you give your facts.
2) List 8 random facts about yourself.
3) At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names, linking to them.
4) Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they’ve been tagged.

1. I am a cowboy, born and raised.

2. I love to ride horses, especially when it involves rounding up or working with cattle (Sadly this doesn’t happen too often anymore). 😦

3. I used to paint the lines on the University of Wyoming football field in War Memorial Stadium located in Laramie, Wyoming.

4. My wife and I met cleaning toilets in War Memorial Stadium (kind of)! 😉

5. I served a mission for my church (unpaid and voluntarily for 18 months) in Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska (The Colorado Denver Mission).

6. I love the Midwest and especially the beautiful sunrises and sunsets (I recently moved to Nebraska).

7. I pray for the day that the Cubs win the World Series!

8. My family is the most important thing to me in the entire world, and I believe families are forever!

Jeff VanDrimmelen


Brad Kovach

Quentin D’Souza

Miguel Guhlin

Mike McGinley

David Warlick

Clif Mims

Nebraska Sunset I have been working with some wonderful people for the past few weeks at my new job as an educational technology specialist. They have welcomed me, the new guy, with open arms, and I appreciate their hospitality. I have many questions, and I know there is not always time to answer them but my new colleagues do it anyway. I am grateful.

Christian Long at think:lab put how I feel in such eloquent words I want to share them here (My colleagues can change the position of “English teacher and coach” in their minds and place me as an educational tech specialist into Christian’s train of thought). Christian, please let me know if I’m out of bounds sharing your sentiments.

Christian states and I feel the same,

“Note to self:

The school has seen something in you that they value. Likewise, you have seen something even more impressive in them that you value.

The school has invited you to become a part of their lives and families. Likewise, you have invited them to become part of your life and family.

The school has entrusted you with the academic and social well-being of their most precious resources: their kids. Likewise, you have agreed to take this responsibility on without fail, and without letting your own biases/ego get in the way.

The school — long before you were interviewed — had been successfully creating a culture of academic rigor, respect/empathy, and life-long relationships. Even if you never came around, they’d still be doing it tomorrow and many years into the future. They invited you to play a small role within their family. Likewise, you noted this about them each and every time you visited the campus. You have accepted a small role within their family, first and foremost. And you never plan on forgetting that with or with you, they’ll continue doing great things in the future.

The school knows you can bring additional ideas and resources to them over time; in fact, they hired you explicitly — even when they did not need to hire one more English teacher or coach — in part because of that very realization. What they need from you early on, however, is to listen to, learn about, respect, and celebrate the academic world that they have already built and committed to long before you came-a-knockin’. Likewise, you have signed up to teach classes they need and in ways they value, first and foremost. You have plenty of time to share new ideas, but listening, watching, and respecting is the first rule of business. Listening and watching is your best trait going forward in this first year.

The school expects you to do great things on their behalf. In the meantime, they will ask you to do the ‘small’ things first. Likewise, you expect to do great things on their behalf. In the meantime, you will embrace the ‘small’ things with dignity and enthusiasm.

The school has extraordinary people that are capable of amazing things and more mentors that you can shake a stick at going in. Likewise, you know this and want to empower their success (rather than to try to prove what you can do yourself). And you will find as many mentors as you can to learn from, without fail.

Now that we have that cleared up, it’s time to get-r-done!”

Thanks for sharing Christian, and best wishes now that you have returned to the classroom. I will be hoping for good things to happen to you and your students and will follow along each day. Once again thanks to my new colleagues, district, and community for allowing me into your day to day world.



Something fun…

Posted: August 14, 2007 in That's interesting!

Not feeling up to par this evening, but I saw a link to this on Digg that brought a smile: Idea Generator. Enjoy!

This is an interesting article:

An excerpt: “Every professor has tales about the downside of laptops in their classrooms. They say that kids turn off their thinking skills and turn it into a touch typing class. Or that the annoying tap-tap of the keyboard drives them to distraction as they try to frame their next thought. They complain about kids who doze behind their open laptop screens (some report looking out on a sea of open laptop cases with logos) and about kids who IM, shop and e-bay to wile away the class hours.

Not all professors think laptops should be ousted from the classroom though; many talk about laptops the same ways they talk about the student’s in their class: engage them and they’ll be fine.”

The debate is on! What do you think?