Monday, November 28, 2016

The Homestretch of 2016

Hard to believe, but 2016 is almost finished.  Thanksgiving has come and gone, which, unfortunately, was the least memorable and lamest Thanksgiving that I have ever had.  It started with what I thought was a cold the week before, turning into what I think was probably the flu with the aches, fever, chills, cough, the whole nine.  As the week of Thanksgiving started, I started to feel better, only to turn again on Thanksgiving and sleeping about 15 hours straight through dinner.  As much as I love the leftovers, I barely ate any of those because my desire to eat was nonexistent.  

Excitement abound! 
The year has been a crazy one (aren't they all, though?) in my personal and professional life, not to mention the economic, social, and political fabric of the United States and the world changing drastically with a great deal of uncertainty for 2017 ahead of us.  But, as one of my favorite movie characters of all time, Garth Algar from Wayne's World, once said, "LIVE IN THE NOW!" After spending most of Thanksgiving week under the weather, I am finally feeling better (just in time to give whatever sickness I had to my 5-year-old daughter, 19-month-old son, and wife), I got plenty of sleep (because I was sick), and SiriusXM hosted a week and a half of Mandatory Metallica to celebrate the release of their new album, which is absolutely amazing (Brian Briggs, did you pick it up yet?).  I am recharged and ready to rock the next three weeks of school to finish off the calendar year.  The beard is growing in, with a lot more grey than in years past, my hair is longer than it has been in, well, a year, since last No Shave November, and the last few weeks of 2016 is shaping up to be an exciting time, personally and professionally, for yours truly.

Bill Murray, aka, Pvt. Winger salutes you!
Recently, my school's Air Force ROTC program purchased 60 Chromebooks for use in their classes.  I spent some time with my tech partner and a couple of students enrolling the Chromebooks and building carts for the classes.  Now comes the million dollar question:  what do we do with these things?  I admire the ROTC department for their willingness to commit money to the technology and their curiosity in how they can best use their new devices.  Some teachers would get them and let them collect dust or use them as glorified worksheet machines.  The teachers from the ROTC department have already booked appointments to work with me on how to best utilize the tools that they now have.  And it also goes without saying that I admire the fine men and women of our ROTC department that have made military service their career and are now molding the next generation of leaders at our school.


Over the past few weeks, many teachers of my school have been working hard preparing for the Google Certified Educator, Level 1 exam.  I organized a three-hour training, with an additional three-hour block of time for the exam on Saturday, December 10 at my school.  Not only have teachers been incorporating more Google tools into their daily lessons and reviewing the modules provided by the Google for Education Training Center, they are going to be giving up a 6-hour block of one of their Saturdays to complete the training and testing.  To convince somebody to put in those kinds of hours, cough up $10 to pay for the exam and give up their Saturday takes quite a bit of convincing on the part of the organizer.  However, 25 teachers and staff are signed up, and I look forward to seeing each and every one of them receive their certification certificates.

One of the best things about working at a school that is trying to become more technologically savvy and innovative is helping teachers that already have great lessons and projects and how to flip them into something that is more digital in nature (SAMR, anyone?).  One such teacher wanted to take a small project that involves researching historical figures from providing a brief presentation of simple facts with a graphic to something much more exciting and visually appealing.  I provided her with a few ideas on how to achieve this, such as creating a hyperdoc or short videos.  In ten minutes, she turned her project into a video project using Adobe Spark where student groups would demonstrate their learning on a historical figure through graphics and short text, rather than long sentences/paragraphs, with voiceovers and music to accommodate the information.  The videos could then be posted by students to Google Classroom to share with their peers for learning and evaluative purposes.

We took our kids to Disneyland at the beginning of break;
 this is what it's like waiting in line at times! And waiting to
hear back on other things too... 
The next few days and weeks are full of potentially good news for me as a professional.  I am awaiting word on approval on several fronts.  I applied to be a presenter at CUE in Palm Springs in March.  My presentation will be non-traditional in nature in regards to your typical conference session in that it will be more of a roundtable discussion on how to bring tech laggers and tech resistors on board with a vision of expanding technology in a school.  I also applied to present several sessions at the EdTech Team's Carson City, NV GAFE Summit (is it still going to be called a GAFE Summit now that it is GSuite?).  And the one that I am most anticipating is my application for Google Certified Trainer that I submitted a few weeks back.  It's tough playing the whole "hurry up and wait" game, but the rewards are great if I can only be patient.  But it's so hard!

Lastly, while I enjoy many aspects of the December holiday season, it's not my favorite time of the year, for several reasons.  I don't enjoy how it becomes earlier and earlier every year (can we get through Halloween, Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving please?).  I don't enjoy how materialistic and corporate it has become.  I'm not religious, but in my opinion, it's gotten away from the religious, cultural, and family-oriented holiday that it once was.   And I also don't enjoy remembering spending a Christmas in the hospital when my grandmother was sick years ago.  I cherish the memories of her, just don't like being reminded of that one.  This year, for the first time since I moved to Nevada in 2005, I will actually be home.  Because I have always traveled during my time off in December, I have never bothered to decorate a tree or anything.  This year, we will buy a tree, decorate it, hang stockings, and the whole thing for the kids.  And of course, I will enjoy the things that I do like about the holiday, like watching Bad Santa, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, and Charlie Brown and hanging out with friends and family.  And of course, hockey is always on and college bowl season begins and barring the (probable) collapse of the Detroit Lions, playoff football in the Motor City.

The next few weeks will be a great ride, hopefully, your ride will be just as fun and jam-packed as mine.  Until next time...