Category Archives: Uncategorized

Critical Thinking and TEKS Science Content Via Online Activities

TCEA session 3 Notes
blog has handouts and links

java applets

World of Goo – trial download
demonstrate basic relationship between force and motion using simple machines

Spore – trial but you can download Creature Creator e.g. of class use – have students create a carnivorous organism that lives in water.  Have students evaluate each other and vote on creature most likely to survive.  Change the environment to hot and dry – what are the results?
genetics, structure and function

Adaptive Curriculum (not free)
intended for a once or twice solution

Peter Rillero Ph. D

Dare to Use Audacity TCEA Session 2 Notes
Resources and Links all on their google site Yay!
Audacity is opensource – free – links are on their google page for downloading
Make sure you download the lame encoder so you can export as mp3s

Classroom uses (they showed several examples)
Book talks
Substitute Instructions
Speech Pathology
Create Interviews (you can do it yourself and use audacity to change one voice so it sounds like two people – historical character. book character etc)
(files can be brought into movie maker and powerpoint
record reading a textbook for student
record students reading aloud so they can hear themselves
audio book reports
book promo for library

Headphones with mics attached helped to record without picking up background noise

Sound resource freeplaymusic

demonstrated creating three tracks – two had the music and stepped down and then back up and the “speaking” track was placed so that it fell between the steps so you had music introducing, then speech, then music for the ending
Can edit out words (uh, and like)

Can add words

Audacity saves the file as a .au (this is where all the behind the scene stuff happens – do not touch this file and you can edit it later)

When complete you have to export as an mp3 or wav file

resulting mp3 can be used as background audio, podcast, embedded in a blog, imported into powerpoint or moviemaker

Technology Staff Development Strategies TCEA09

Session One Notes

Technology Staff Development Strategies
Kaye Moore Hurst Euless Bedford ISD (HEB)
What they did – went from Windows 98 and Office 2000 to xp and office 2007 over the summer

Discussed the usual closed doors of staff dev
Time, schedules, childcare, reluctance to use personal time, facilily usage and software problems

Unlocking the doors

Went from face to face to techno tv
Borrowed a dedicated channel that was not being used
Instructional video each week plays all the time so teacher can access whenever
They do have “best of” weeks
Fun project weeks (before Christmas they showed teachers how to create a calendar or personalized notepads (use glue you buy and apply at the top of the pages to create notepad?)
At strategic times the broadcast can be gradebook instructions

Videos created using Camtasia

Also utilize a departmental website with instructional docs available to download – no login or password needed so things like gradebook are NOT found here

They also have HEBonline (blackboard) with online courses and curriculum info.  Constantly being updated.

Software central where manuals can be downloaded

They do an end of year video and instruction sheets for backing up to server

Podcasts and Vodcasts – ability to blog /wiki, or subscribe in itunes

Create a plan
do preliminary training with key people – instructional and support
Timeline for installation – support
timeline for training – instructional
timeline for implementation

They outsourced the training for their key people
Then, key instructional staff dev in house
Key instructional staff to use model that has been created and adjusted to train staff

Trained admin staff first

Information blitz entire district – IT staff provide 15 minute overview for every staff. vodcast available

Summer Training

Result of all this – fewer calls for help,
Requests for upgraded training

Used PDSA model
Plan Do Study Act
Plan – analyze
Did training using small steps to start controlled environment
Analyzed – what worked, what didn’t, revised and adjusted or standardized process
Check, Study results
Get buy in

Off To Weird Austin!

Tomorrow I am off to TCEA in Austin.  I am leaving behind a million things that need to be done yesterday and my daughter who has her interview at the Honors College while I’m gone (and who got her official ranking in her class – 7, excuse me for mama bragging a bit), my husband who begins attending a Ministry class tomorrow night.  No, he isn’t studying to be a pastor, though some who attend the class may go on to plant churches.  He is wanting to learn more about how to share his faith and about what God wants him to do with this gift of life that he has been given.  Number one son is heading to three different places to judge debate tournaments.  He is here tonight but will leave before I do in the morning.

I’ll do my usual stressing right up until I am in the car and on my way.  Then there is no point because it is beyond my control so I will relax and enjoy the trip.  I plan to go to work in the morning and get my walk in and get the computers in the lab logged in and ready for the counselors to do scheduling and then back to the house to get Dale to take me to Paula’s.  That’s the plan though I may try to get home a bit sooner and spend a bit of time with hubby before I go.

I’m excited about going but not quite as enthusiastic about the presentations as I have been in the past.  I’m hoping to learn something new or if nothing else spend some time looking at things I already know in a fresh way so I can bring something useful back to my district.  I also hope to take a step back from everything and come back rejuvenated.  I’ve been feeling crabby and mean-spirited lately and I’m ready for a break.  I’ll blog it all while I’m there and I will still get my walking in, because it never fails that any two consecutive presentations I want to attend will be on opposite sides of the conference center and often on different floors.

I’m ready for the ride – I have two books, my laptop, my mp3 player, and camera and some papers I need to go over.  A quick trip to the drive-through at Paris Coffee Company and I’ll be set.  Next post will be from Austin!

P.S. To the commenter on my previous post – thank you so much for the nice words.  It’s such a cool thing to come visit my blog and find a hug waiting 🙂

Surfing and Reading Shares

There are blogs that I read on a regular basis and then there are articles I read just because the title catches my attention and I just have to click to see what it’s about.  Here are some that caught my interest tonight:

“Screw Flowers–You Need Cheesecake!”

What a great idea.  When friends are going through something rough, why not send cheesecake intead of flowers.  I love it!
Silver-lined Excrement
I wasn’t sure I wanted to look.  Turns out she has an elderly dog who is losing control of his er…bodily functions.  Her dad reflects on the silver lining (it wasn’t HIS poop).  Guess you’ll just have to read it.

10 Sure-Fire Ways to Be a Complete Failure At Everything
Ya, like I need directions for THAT???  What a surprise – I have 7 through 10 down pat!
Please Speak Clearly, Lord, I Have Children.
We Live in Public (and the end of empathy)

This one is thought provoking.  I have been thinking about it since I read it and while I think that we do tend to depersonalize on the internet, I have to wonder how much of that is caused by being online and how much is just an online reflection of our society.  I see some mean-ness but I tend to associate (online and off) with people that I have things in common with and for the most part they are NOT mean.  So which way does the mirror point?  I think personally I am more careful about what I say online than I am in face-to-face conversations instead of the other way around.

While I was wandering I ran across these two sites that I thought were cool – for kids a new search engine that utilizes Google’s safe search to “eliminate inappropriate material” :

The next one is one I will use a lot –

When you go to a restaurant, do you know the nutritional content of what you’re ordering? We didn’t either. Fatburgr gives you nutritional information from your favorite restaurants.

I’ll have to walk a lot to undo the damage my supper did – 740 calories and 72 carbs and it was small!! Yikes!

Life And The Weather

The weather is conspiring against me!  It rained all day yesterday and into the night and we woke up to ice.  We went to work late so I missed my evening walk yesterday and my morning and evening walk today.  I will walk in the morning but I HATE missing at all.  To top it off I have thirty computers to load with operating systems and software and will be gone all next week.  The short day today put me way behind with that.  I am frustrated and there are other commitments this week that are complicating things.  I am really looking forward to heading to Austin and having nothing to worry about but soaking up technology (and I won’t have to worry about finding time to walk – I’ll walk all day) and relaxing at night.  I have a couple of books to carry with me to read, extra batteries for my mp3 player, and I will make a strong effort to leave worry up here.

Number one son found a house and room-mate so hubby is going down to help him move tomorrow – again.  It is a good thing hopefully.  The place he is living came with baggage – a Scottish landlord who likes his beer (duh) and a week ago got into an actual fist fight with someone.  The day before there was a shooting at the apartment house next door.  My checkbook will be crying again.  We can’t squeeze much more out of it.

Daughter has an interview at Texas A&M Honors College while I am gone so please keep fingers and toes crossed, say a few prayers, and think positive thoughts.  She wants it badly and I want it for her.  She is a great kid and it is time something great happened for her.

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars

This weekend we will get together for a late family Christmas in Louisiana.  My job is to bring a dessert and I am bringing our family traditional Christmas goody that I have been making since Number 1 son was six and informed me that I had to make them for Christmas FOREVER.

Keep in mind that the recipe is for a double batch – 2 9×13 pans.  It’s easy to halve if you like.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

2 18 ounce packages of chocolate chip cookie dough

2 8 oz. pkg of cream cheese

1/4 cup butter

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 cans of Eagle Brand

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

12 oz. pkg of mini chocolate chips

Put cookie dough in the pans and let it soften a bit.  Press it into the bottom of the pans.  Beat together softened cream cheese, butter, and cornstarch.  Beat in Eagle Brand.  Add eggs and vanilla.

Pour over the cookie dough and sprinkle with handfuls of choclate chips.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Let cool and cut into bars.  Refrigerate.

I just gained a pound typing that 🙂

Plastic Babies and Random Weirdness

Yesterday I walked into the office of a friend and she was going to show me baby  dolls that had been purchased for the kids taking the classes in parenting.  The dolls are realistic and are hooked to a computer so that if the baby cries and the “mom” doesn’t feed, change, love on it – it is recorded.  It records other things too.  As we were about to open the boxes to look at some her phone rang and I proceeded to get one out while she answered the call.

As I turned, looking at the doll and reading the warning on the package another friend walked in and I had to ask – isn’t this a tiny bit ironic?  The doll was in a plastic bag that carried the usual warning – Keep away from children, choking hazard, can cause asphyxiation.

As I told hubby about it that evening, he asked “Was the doll blue?” When I replied that it wasn’t he looked up from the paper he was reading and said “It’s not very realistic then is it?”

And people think my humor is twisted…

Burn Audio CDs Using iTunes

Burning An Audio CD Using Your Mac

My last Mac post I talked about how I am not fond of iTunes.  That said, one thing that iTunes does nicely is burn your MP3 files to an audio CD that you can play in any CD player.

The first thing you need to do is create a Playlist. To do this either press the Command key and N or go to file and click New Playlist.  Give it a name so you will remember what it is.

Click on the Music icon under library in the sidebar to see all your music.  Put a check in the little boxes to the left of each song you want to include in your playlist.  Keep in mind that a CD will hold about 74 minutes of music.  You will see approximate times of each song to the right of the song name.  Average is about 18-19 songs, but you can add those minutes up to be sure you don’t have too many songs for your CD, then delete or add as needed.

When you have your Playlist created, select it and place a check next to each song if they are not already checked.  Insert blank CD in the drive. Right click (control-click) on the playlist title and select Burn Playlist to Disc. A Menu box will pop up. Make sure Audio CD and Use Sound Check are selected.  The other defaults should be fine.  Sound Check will adjust the volume so that all your songs play at the same volume level.

Click Burn and wait – iTunes will beep when it is complete.  That’s all there is to it 🙂

Also posted at PHS Computer Project Lab

Friday Notes To Self

This is just one example of how my day was yesterday. At one point I got up from my desk and walked to the printer. When I got back there was a voice mail on my cell phone. As I listened to the voice mail, the phone on my desk rang. It was the person who had left me the voice mail. As I spoke with them on the landline, my cell buzzed again. It was someone calling to tell me that the person on the landline was trying to reach me.

This was all because the Barracuda mail server had to be rebooted and some other things and when I told people they could get back in to their email, this person got an error. Told them to try restarting – the world is saved.

We panic without our email. (note to self – stop giving out cell phone number)

A student kicked a power strip and shut down the whole middle row in the lab. I got to crawl around on the floor trying to figure out which power strip. (note to self – buy some new power strips, The old ones don’t light up anymore when they are on)

I put a computer on the domain that had been forgotten. It lived in an office way in the back of everything. There was a big cup of sunflower seeds on the desk and mouse droppings all over the place. Every time I touched the keyboard I could just imagine little mighty mouse skittering across it, piddling as he goes. I washed my hands four times and used some germ-x. Eeew. (note to self – buy more germ-x)

The table around my printer is littered with a lot of unwanted pictures that were printed by students who have been in the lab for several days with a sub. The behavior was not that bad considering but they didn’t seem to have a good grasp on what they wanted and so a lot of trees died and a lot of printer ink was wasted which makes me growly.



I had to hunt for a belt this morning.  That may be too much information for most of you but the fact that I had to actually hunt for one should tell you that I haven’t needed one for awhile.  I am nearly to the halfway mark of my initial goal and I was tired of hitching my pants up constantly.  I finally made it past the “plateau” (at least the first one) and I am walking everyday.

The funny thing about losing weight is that once you start, every pound lost motivates you to work at losing more.  I make conscious decisions about not what I eat or don’t eat now.

I may have to shop for new jeans before too long 🙂

Random TV Movie Quote

I’m watching The Librarian : Return to King Solomon’s Mines on TV. I’ve seen it before but there is nothing else on and so I am reading, writing and keeping one eye and ear on the show.

The hero and the girl are traveling, walking through the sand when they stop suddenly because they see this head sticking up out of the sand with some kind of ceremonial makeup on. The head moves and startled the girl asks if he is okay. He responds with a slightly British accent, that he “has been better”.

Chuckle. I guess it’s all a matter of perspective….


For me, the summer is winding down and while it has been a time of rest and regrouping for my family, I’m getting the itch to get back. There are still things I would have liked to get done here at home this summer but we have been spending our time trying to adjust. Everyone is home and that is a new situation. We also know that our oldest will be a senior this year and the youngest a junior so it won’t be very long before they are out of the nest. I am certain I just blinked and they grew up. And who IS that person in the mirror. She wears bifocals and has lines around her eyes and some grey hair. I’m sure I don’t know her.

Oh well, at least I’m not buried up to my neck in sand.


Mr. P’s Blog pointed me towards an article in USNews about leadership. I find the subject fascinating personally because while I have ideas, I don’t have leadership qualities. I am uncomfortable in the spotlight and I lack self-confidence. You would think that realizing you don’t have self-confidence would be a step in rectifying that situation but it doesn’t seem to be true in my case.

What makes someone a leader? It can’t just be self-confidence because there are plenty of folks I have met that were oozing self-confidence but lacked the things that make me want to follow someone – imagination, compassion, creativity, honor.

Of all the leaders listed in the article, the one that I found most interesting wasn’t one person, but a group – the staff of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

These folks who were dealing with their own personal losses due to hurricane Katrina, who had no cell phones or email to communicate with, came together no matter what their postion before the storm and kayaked, convoyed, walked and did whatever they had to to keep the paper going. They continue to do so while dealing with insurance claims, rebuilding their own homes, family members still scattered around the country and the quote at the end of the story speaks to the heart of it for me.

“Cooperation is teaching employees that they all have leadership roles to play. “Leadership is not necessarily connected to important-sounding titles,” Leadership is not necessarily a function of how smart you are. It is more correlated to impulses of courage and responsibility and accountability.”

Maybe leadership is more about people being placed into situations where their best becomes who they are.  I think leadership is also dependent upon good followers.  People have to be able to discern good leadership and be willing to give their best in whatever their position is.

We complain about our country’s leaders, our community’s leaders, and the leadership in our places of employment but if we are not willing to make the effort to be involved in every part of the process that puts these people in position and then be willing to extend support to keep them there and to keep these entities moving towards the goals that we feel are important then we lose the right to complain if those goals are not reached.

Followers are just as crucial as leaders and they have to be a partnership. I’m okay with not being a leader, but I hope I am a good follower.

Thinking About Creativity

It’s the week of Thanksgiving and I am on vacation. I’ve been doing a lot of “stream-of-consciousness” reading on the internet. One article about something leads to another about something else and so on….A couple of good reads on GapingVoid – one on creativity and one on Idea Amplification. Another good read about Constrained Creativity on by Kathy Sierra on CreatingPassionateUsers.

Hugh MacLoud Talks about how the actual manfufacture of a product is incidental to how they make us feel about the product. He mentions three companies – Apple, Starbucks, and Nike. The attractiveness of these companies is not that they make a wonderful product (though I’m personally partial to Starbucks and Apple) but that they promote the belief of our human potential and that’s what we buy into because that is what we all want to believe in. In a related article he says “The market for human potential is infinite” and “the soul cannot be outsourced”.

The article on creativity is a list of suggestions he expands on and because it is a thoughtful list of what has worked for him it includes some very practical advice – such as keeping your day job – along with some just plain inspiring ones such as “Merit can be bought – passion can’t” and “Don’t try to stand out in the crowd – avoid crowds altogether”.

Kathy sierra’s article “Don’t Wait For the Muse” tells us to do something! The ideas will follow. “You can’t try things if you’re waiting for the muse to show up”

As I read Thomas Friedman’s “The World is Flat” I worry about the jobs that are being outsourced. I also think about the wealth of creativity we have in this country and wonder what we need to do for our students to encourage growth in that area. I want to be able to say that the “company” or industry that gets me excited and makes me believe in the potential of humanity is education. Creativity takes energy and energy comes from passion. We have to be willing to try new things sometimes even when we are running low on energy. Trying new things will allow us to experience the creativity that comes from the learning process and I believe that is how we can keep our passion alive. Passion and creativity are the greatest gifts we can give our students.

Rainy Saturday

Today was a rainy day. The news channel said we got about 33/100s of an inch but our rain gauge said a little more than an inch. Dale and I were sitting on the back porch enjoying the rain when all of a sudden there was a flash of lightening and a clap of thunder that sounded like a rifle going off next to my head. The flash seemed like it was in the next door neighbor’s yard. I jumped out of my chair so fast I nearly knocked it over though I don’t know what I thought I was doing. Maybe for a second I was going to try to outrun the lightening. Dale was amused to say the least. The outcome was that our house and two other had their phones knocked out. The man next door lost the power supply on his computer. Thankfully mine was uplugged including the modem. Jessica had a report to finish and I needed to do some cleaning in the computer lab at school so I took her up there and while I was there I called the phone company. Like everything else these days you don’t get to speak with a human. According to their little online test there was no problem in our line. They suggested that you unplug all phones and answering machines and then start plugging everything back in one at a time to test all the equipment. When we got home I did what they suggested and nothing worked. Dale had some wire and rigged something up outside. He thinks the little circuit board in their box is fried. We have phone and internet now. It’s a good thing I married an electrician. I don’t actually know what the lightening hit and the only thing I can figure is that it either ran along the ground or the air around us just got charged. Our answering machine is dead but everything else seems okay.

After that we decided to go for a ride and see what was going on in the rest of town. The storm had passed and we were restless. We drove around town and didn’t see any more storm damage but as we were driving home we passed the hospital and both parking lots were empty except for about a dozen state patrol cars and an ambulance. The police had all the entrances to the hospital parking lots blocked. I stopped at the Exxon station before we went home and mentioned it to the girl behind the counter. She told me the Pakistani President had been here visiting his nephew and had some sort of heart attack. I thought this had to be some sort of mistake and then the news this evening said the Pakistani President had been visiting in northeast Texas today including a stop in Paris. They didn’t mention anything about the hospital but the two pieces of information were an awfully big coincidence. Maybe the news tonight will be a little more forthcoming. All in all it was a pretty strange day.

Just an Update

I haven’t posted in a little while because it’s been a calm period  and I hate to even mention it because Dale is still having stomach pain occasionally and I feel like another trip to Baylor is in the future, I just don’t know when.  He fights it because he just hates to go.  I just hope if we go it is soon – before school starts.  I am determined to try to miss as little as possible and that may mean driving back and forth and I’m already burned out from running on adrenaline.  My sister-in-laws came for a visit and he really enjoyed it.  Today was Jessica’s fifteenth birthday and we spent some girl time shopping and eating ice cream.  It wasn’t much but she knows things are shaky right now.   She has grown up so much this summer.  She has been such a lot of help and so has Kinsey.

I should be learning how to use a MacBook by next week.  I am so excited.  I have been reading online about it as much as I can but I will learn much faster by doing.  I promise to write more about it as I learn.

Perception is important

Yesterday I thought my computer at work was dying. I was frantically transferring stuff with my flash drive to another computer and burning it to cd. Not that this was a bad thing to do – I am an incurable junk collector in real life and on my computer. There is still a lot of “house-cleaning” to do. Our computer guy (there really should be more elegant titles for the two people that keep things purring along – (like Grand Rulers of Technology World) came and looked at it and spent about 20 minutes and had it running fine. The problem wasn’t that complicated and I am not a complete newbie, so what is the “thing” that makes someone be able to sit down at a computer and be able to tell what the problem is and take the necessary steps to fix it? I know that there is a lot of education and experience involved but the part I’m fascinated by is the thought process. I have experienced it sometimes and I have some skills but definite limitations. Yesterday was one of those times where I seemed to be in one mode and that mode was not at all on the same plane as the problem. That happens in other aspects of our lives too so maybe it’s not even a technology problem but a perception problem.

Some Good Things

“There are only two ways to live your life.

One is as though nothing is a miracle.

The other is as if everything is.”

Albert Einstein

Grace is God giving us what we do not deserve

Mercy is God not giving us what we do deserve

Author unknown

We can’t always change our circumstance, but we can always change our attitude towards our circumstance

Author unknown