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Thursday
Jun162016

MASA article - Is your district moving to the cloud?

 

Can technology directors be as reactionary as other professionals working in education? Most of us, I believe, have the reputation for doing our best to push the envelope, to create change, to foment revolution in our schools. Or at least educational technology writers and popular speakers at technology conferences would lead one to that conclusion. But at heart, might we “techies” be deeply resistant to change as well?

I get this feeling most strongly when I hear about technology departments raising barriers rather than creating possibilities about new resources especially when the objections seem rather spurious (security of GoogleApps, bandwidth for YouTube, predators on Facebook, licensing of Skype, etc.). Are the concerns real or are they raised to keep technology departments from doing something different, jeopardizing our roles, responsibilities, control, and budget?

Continued in:

Is Your District Moving to the Cloud? MASA Leaders Forum p9

http://mnasa.org/cms/lib6/MN07001305/Centricity/Domain/152/MASA%20Newsletter%20S16_web.pdf

Tuesday
Jun072016

If you had to choose...

Heather Johnson, who teaches sixth grade in Mashpee, said today’s teachers need to be digitally literate to boost academic achievement. She also stopped handing out textbooks, has created her own online curriculum by pulling together open-source learning applications, and watched as students have become more excited about learning.

“This is their language,” Johnson said. “Most of the time it’s 100 percent student engagement.”   In more classrooms, books and lectures are being ditched, Steven A Rosebberg, Boston GLobe June 4, 2016

If you could have access to only one peripheral in your school workspace, which would it be: a printer/copier or a scanner?

Both at home and at work, the scanner is my most used tool. It should be yours as well. (But I don't use them for scanning cats.)

 

Monday
Jun062016

The "Grand" Canyon trip

You cannot see the Grand Canyon in one view, as if it were a changeless spectacle from which a curtain might be lifted, but to see it, you have to toil from month to month through its labyrinths. John Wesley Powell

Last week, grandsons Paul (age 15) and Miles (age 10) with Grandpa (age unknown) tagging along, drove out to Arizona to hike the Grand Canyon. We also managed to squeak in visits to the World's Largest Hand Dug Well, Petrified Forest National Park, Meteor Crater, Walnut Canyon, Monument Valley, and Mesa Verde National Park. It was a busy week. But from now on the "grand" in Grand Canyon, will stand for "grand" sons - and a grand time.

A few photos and comments. The complete set of photos can be found here.

Our packs look deceptively heavy. While our guide carried the food and cooking gear, we carried all our own personal belongings, the tent, and some of the food and stove fuel. Oh, and water. Lots of heavy water.

The first day covered 8 miles down the Bright Angel Trail where we set up camp in Indian Gardens, then hiked to supper at Plateau Point. We had well broken in hiking boots. double-layer socks, and sunscreen. The boys and I over the week managed to avoid sunburn, blisters, scrapes, bites or any other form of injury. As I kidded my daughter, I returned her children in better condition than in which I'd found them.

Frequent rest stops and a slow pace allowed Grandpa to complete the trip feeling good the entire time. Miles and I hiked together while Paul often sprinted ahead. Miles liked his hiking poles.

Camp grounds at Indian Gardens included shade, a covered picnic table and metal ammo boxes in which to store food and toiletries that critters might find tasty. We had a quiet site not far from the water source and bathrooms. We stayed here two nights.

Miles and Paul both enjoyed dinking around in the creek in the campgrounds. Eventually I left them to play by themselves. When did we stop allow kids to play unsupervised?

A 3 foot long rattlesnake slowly made its way across a path in the camp one afternoon. I don't know if the boys were impressed, but I was. And I wondered where the snake made its roost at night. Mule deer were common and close in the camp as well.

The first day ended viewing the sunset from Plateau Point, a 1.5 mile hike from the campground. Supper of fajitas while watching the Colorado River and cliffs fall into shadow. Literally an "awe" - some place. Darkness fell as we hiked back to our campsite where we quickly fell asleep after a long day.

Beauty surrounds Grand Canyon hikers - but in subtle ways. I enjoyed the purple tints of these cacti.

The boys and I slept outside under the stars both nights we camped. I joked to Miles that each time he wiggled, I got worried a squirrel, skunk, or snake was on my sleeping bag. The darkness of the canyon made an incredible light show of the stars. It takes a certain amount of bravery to sleep without shelter.

Day two of the hike took us down to the Colorado River and the Phantom Ranch. 10 mile round trip with a 1500 ft change in elevation. The grand vistas of the previous day gave way to the greener smaller canyons and streams.

The Devil's Corkscrew was a short, if strenuous rapid gain elevation through a series of swtichbacks. As we hiked back up later in the day, I told Miles my strategy of looking down and watching the hikers far below us and to feel proud of how far we had come in such a short period of time. We called those below us on the trail the "ant people."

Nap at Phantom Ranch before the return hike. Never stand when you can sit. Never sit when you can lie down.

Part of the fun is using stepping stones to cross the various creeks in the path. Miles liked his hiking poles a lot.

We got an early morning start on our last day - 5 miles and 3000 feet of elevation gain back to the South Rim. Many people praised the boys for their stamina. No one said a damn word to me about mine.

We made it! And to celebrate we drank enormous shakes from the ice cream shop at Bright Angel Lodge just after it opened at 10AM. We unloaded our gear, headed back to Tusayan for lunch at McDonalds, a nap, a showing of the National Georgraphic IMax movie, supper and an early bedtime.

The next day we hiked (or walked) the Rim Trail after visiting Desert View Tower and the Tusayan ruins. To Paul it was too easy and not worthy of being called a hike. Whatever, it was still 3 miles from the Visitors Center, past the Geological Museum, and on to El Tovar where we ate lunch.

The view from the Rim revealed our path on the Bright Angel trail from the day prior. From the bottom of the canyon, the several strata of cliff faces look impenetrable. But the way revealed itself as we hiked up. Must be some sort of lesson in that.

Native American culture was on display at the Hopi House near the El Tovar hotel on the South Rim. Dances, flute music, and songs of prayer accompanied by a spoken hope for new beginnings to good relationships between cultures comprised the program.

Paul shops for genuine Native American jewelry at a stand in Monument Valley.

The iconic view of Mesa Verde's Cliff Palace. The boys had visited the park once before but I had never been. We spent the night in Far View Lodge then took two guided tours the next morning of Cliff Palace and Balcony House. I want to go back to see more of the park and do some hikes.

Getting in an out of the ancient pueblos in Mesa Verde National Park was great fun. Long ladders, narrow dark tunnels, and stone foot holds make the tours real adventures. Mesa Verde was the first (only?) national park established to protect human cultural artifacts rather than natural resources.

Austere beauty once again. Much of our drive home through eastern Colorado and western Kansas was flat and dry. But now and then an antelope would make an appearance on the horizon or a coyote would lope across the plain just to make things interesting.

A truck stop breakfast on the way home. Everything in the photo was ordered - and consumed - by the boys. Great eaters this trip.

Often during the trip, strangers commented to Paul and Miles how lucky they were to have a grandpa who would take them on such a trip. My thinking is that I am the lucky one to have two such fine young men willing to indulge an old man in his craving for travel and adventure. I hope we have many more adventures ahead of us. I am truly blessed to have this experience. We are plotting our next trip...

Oh, both boys have promised to travel with their grandchildren one day.