Sunday, November 25, 2007

Is Your School "Crackerjack"?

Cold drizzling rain and cloudy skies met me and our dog Gavin on the Sunday, the last day of Thanksgiving vacation. The weather ran us back into warmth of comfortable couch and my MacBook. While checking my email, I glanced at the list of articles in summarized in the New York Times. I subscribe to their daily email feeds on a few topics that that generally find interesting and thought provoking.

This morning, I read an article that warmed my heart and got me to thinking about why I teach. Let me just say, it is complicated. This article has a great phrase that I plan to steal: 'crackjack'.

Let's ask the question: Is Your (our) school- crackjack? If not, then why.

The New York Times: Reference Search for 'crackerjack'
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crack·er·jack (krăk'ər-jăk') pronunciation also crack·a·jack (krăk'ə-)
adj. Slang.

Of excellent quality or ability; fine.

[Probably from CRACK, first-rate + JACK.]
crackerjack crack'er·jack' n.

logo The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2007, 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2007. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. See crackerjack on

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Wanted in my Science Classroom: Asus EeePC

Have to share this educator's first impressions of the Asus EeePC. Would this device serve the purpose of a school? Can its configuration be customized to meet the restrictions of school districts? Can it support our wireless printers? Can students and teachers maintain the device without overwhelming tech support?

I love the idea of it being the size of textbook (smaller than most science textbooks). When I saw it has a built-in webcam I was sold! What do you think about using it in your classroom?


Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday Off?

The radio alarm clock and wake-up timer on my old-school TV came on as programmed precisely at 6:00 a.m. I took the dog out in the 35ish degree morning air as he sniffed his way across the edge of the frost covered lawn. The sound of a few early travelers rushing who-knows-where was clearly audible in the cold. The trip was short- Gavin was ready to head back inside for the warmth of the couch and snuggling under my fleece jacket. Coffee would be nice about now. My wife is able to rest. She came down with a nasty cold Thursday, and has been coughing and sneezing ever since. Today, we are attending a grave side service at 1:20 p.m., and then we will be going to Wilmington to eat out. We are celebrating 30 years of marriage today. It seems like yesterday. My words just can not describe it. All the joy, excitement, ups and downs, families, friends and more.

I love my wife. It is a great day to have off so I can spend time with her.

Got to turn off this computer!

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Classroom Tool for Lesson Planning

I downloaded an application for my MacBook called Planbook. Until registered, Planbook allows you to enter up to 20 lessons for each class in your book. All other functions of the program work exactly as specified in the registered version. Registration removes the 20 lesson limitation.

To purchase Planbook, all I have to do is choose the 'Purchase Planbook...' menu item from the File menu. An internet connection is required to purchase and activate Planbook.

Code and Interface Design: Jeff Hellman
Contact e-mail:

Icon Design: Tim Burns
Contact E-mail:

I think I reached my limit in a couple of hours working on lesson plans with my Biology class. I am not 100% in love with the program. I would like to be able to get under the hood and change the template so I could change the layout of the windows. However, I can live with the way it looks now. I really like how easy it is to add hyperlinks to activities online. Planbook also allows me to attach documents like .pdf, .doc, and images. Also, I can publish the lesson plans to my .Mac account.