Dec 25, 2012

Detext - Stop your teen from texting while driving.

Detext - Stop your teen from texting while driving.

While catching up on the news this morning, I came across a new Android app, detext.  Many applications for smartphones have an entertainment or productivity element to them.  This one is all about safety.  The creators say that it "uses GPS  to monitor for speed. When the phone is in motion, detext automatically restricts text messages, phone calls, and other apps that may distract the driver."

This life saving app works on Android 2.2 and higher devices.  Parents cannot only stop texting-while-driving, they can also monitor their teen's speed.  My big question is, what happens if your teen is a passenger in the vehicle?  Detext has that covered too.  If your teen is a passenger and they receive a text, all they have to do is solve a simple puzzle to respond.  Remember you can customize these options and it's all free.


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Dec 23, 2012

This Weeks Diigo Posts (weekly)

This Weeks Diigo Posts (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Dec 22, 2012

Dec 17, 2012

HE is the reason for the season, and HE comes to malls too

This video was shared with me.  It starts off as a regular Christmas flash mod but ends with a nice touch.  Our Holy Father has spoken about new evangelism, well this reached people where they were, and the memory will last longer than any sermon. 


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Dec 16, 2012

Dec 7, 2012

Spelling Bee!

Spelling Bee!


The Scripps National Spelling Bee is an educational promotion sponsored by The E.W. Scripps Company in conjunction with sponsoring newspapers and organizations around the world.  Its purpose is to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabulary, learn concepts, and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives.

The school level spelling bee will be on January 16.  Prior to that a bee will be conducted in our classroom sometime after the new year.  If students wish to prepare, they may visit the "Students & Parents page".
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Dec 5, 2012

Christmas Cupcake Challenge

Christmas Cupcake Challenge


Cupcake Challenge

Rules:  Each team of no more than three members, must bake and decorate enough cupcakes to shared with members of the class.  Three to five judges will evaluate  your best cupcake based on the following criteria.  




FlavorThis tasty cupcake is of exceptional flavor, neither overly sweet nor lacking in flavor.  (40 pts)This cupcake is of average taste resembling the quality normally found in a store- bought package. (30 pts)This cupcake either lacks flavor or is too sweet.  (20 pts)
PresentationThis attractive cupcake represents the “winter” theme exceptionally well making use of color and other elements of design.  (40 pts)This cupcake adequately represents the “winter” theme resembling the generic quality normally found in a store bought package. (30 pts)This cupcake lacks artistic elements, color, and/or fails to represent the “winter” theme. (20 pts)
TextureThis cupcake is the ideal texture, neither too moist/soft nor dry/firm. (20 pts)This cupcake is of average quality. (15 pts)This cupcake is either too moist/soft or dry/firm. (10 pts)


Cupcake Challenge Evaluation Criteria:

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Nov 25, 2012

Nov 21, 2012

"You're an Historian" - Thanksgiving Lesson

You Are the Historian: Investigating the First Thanksgiving is an interactive exploration of the facts and myths associated with the story of the First Thanksgiving. You can explore the facts and myths through the eyes of a Native American or an English Colonist. Through the eyes of each character you will discover the culture of giving thanks in the Native American and English cultures.  My favorite part is the "path to 1621".  In that part you can see the different perspectives about the same issue.  

Students are encouraged to go through each step.  At the end "share what you've discover".  
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Nov 18, 2012

Nov 12, 2012

Can you describe Scripture in 50 words?

Can you describe Scripture in 50 words?

These "50" words were originally posted on "Ave Maria Press" Engaging Press blog for religious educators.  It is part of a lesson plan on describing God's plan for salvation.


The Bible in 50 Words

God made
Adam bit
Noah arked
Abraham split
Joseph ruled
Jacob fooled
Bush talked
Moses balked
Pharaoh plagued
People walked
Sea divided
Tablets guided
Promised landed
Saul freaked
David peeked
Prophets warned
Jesus born
God walked
Love talked
Anger crucified
Hope died
Love rose
Spirit flamed
Word spread
God remained
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Nov 11, 2012

This Weeks Diigo Posts (weekly)

This Weeks Diigo Posts (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Nov 7, 2012

Did We Really Elect President Obama?

Yesterday just over 10,000 residents in our city cast ballots.  I did.  At 7:45 in the morning, I was voter number 71 at my local voting station.  Like me, most voted for either President Obama or Governor Romney.  Some may have voted for a third party candidate or wrote in a specific name.  If you have watched the news or checked the internet, you are well aware that President Obama won the election with 303 votes.  But did he really win the election?  Before you get any funny ideas, this not a conspiracy post.  It has more to do with how we elect a president.  What does "303" electoral votes mean?  What is the Electoral College?  Who came up with it and why was it necessary?  What did the media mean when they said "270" is needed to win?  Are there any U.S. Citizens forbidden from voting?  When I get to live in the Starship Enterprise, will I be able to vote?


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Nov 5, 2012

Nov 4, 2012

Can Your Politics Affect Your Dating Life?

Can Your Politics Affect Your Dating Life?

Check out this infographic summarizing a  recent study at Brown University on dating and politics.  Pay close attention to the initial premise - that two of the most important criteria for a perfectly matched couple are their agreement on politics and religion or church attendance.  As you will see, the study indicates that most adult couples refrain from discussing and sharing their political opinions as they try to "win" the affections of their potential mates.  

Why is agreement on political and religious positions so important for a perfectly matched couple? Why might we conceal our political and religious opinions when looking for a marriage partner? Is is dishonest to willfully withhold our political and religious opinions if they are so important to us?  What are your thoughts?


Why is agreement on political and religious positions so important for a perfectly matched couple? Why might we conceal our political and religious opinions when looking for a marriage partner? Is is dishonest to willfully withhold our political and religious opinions if they are so important to us?  What are your thoughts?
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Oct 29, 2012

Read & Write For Google Docs is For Every Student

Read & Write for Google Docs is one of my favorite Chrome applications.  Once installed, a user will have a tab that opens a useful list of features including a dictionary, visual dictionary, fact finder, my favorite a text to speech reader.  Check out the many useful features.  If you are using Chrome, visit the Chrome Web Store and install this free application today.

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Oct 28, 2012

Is your password strong enough?

Is your password strong enough?

A few days ago I came across Daily Infographic, a website devoted to publishing infographics.  The first time I heard the term infographic, I dismissed it as just a new educational term, a trend that simply re-packaged an old idea.  Well to some degree this is true.  An infographic visually presents complex information.  It is quite similar to an informational poster, a picture essay, and a digital poster.  In fact, if combine each of these you will have an infographic.  

This infographic is about choosing a good password.  Most of us have many online accounts and with each new online service we are forced to create a new account with and password.  After reading this many of us may wish to rethink our existing passwords   


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Oct 23, 2012

St. Patrick's Academy

St. Patrick's Academy


Today a recruiter from St. Patrick's came to address the eighth grade class.  St. Patrick's is a relatively new Catholic High School.  Originally, St. Patrick's' opened as an elementary school which closed in June, 2009.  It re-opened that September 2009 as St. Patrick Academy and is transitioning into a four year, coeducational high school.   

St. Patrick's is a small academy with a capacity of 100 students that means there are only 25 students per grade.  The average class size is 19, makes the teacher-student ration 1;6.  The tuition is roughly around $4000.  They offer a resource library, new science lab, academic support, a tutoring program career awareness, special education, and a mentoring program.

Open House will be Sunday, November 4, 
from 2:00 until 4:00 pm
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Oct 22, 2012

Ad Lib Your Own Political Campaign Commercial

Political advertisements are coming at us from every media.  We see ads on television, radio, mail, newspaper (that is if you still read a printed paper), email, and web ads.  Your list may be longer but this is the media that I frequent.  Well, if you want to get a little experience and deepen your understanding about political campaign advertisements check out PBS Newshour's "Make Your Own Campaign Ads"  Unfortunately,  this is not for everyone, to use it you do need a Facebook account to log in.  I know, shame on PBS for limiting it to Facebook users.  For this reason, I will not be using it with my students, but eighth grade students are encouraged to give it a try.




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Oct 21, 2012

Pumpkin Decorating Contest

Pumpkin Decorating Contest


This year on October 31, Good Shepherd will host a pumpkin decorating contest.  Prizes will be awarded for the funniest, most original, cutest, and scariest.  

Decorated pumpkins are to be brought to the gym on October 31 and taken hone that same day.
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Sep 30, 2012

Sep 29, 2012

Getting Students Comfortable With Prayer

Teaching prayer can sometimes be dry and sterile.  It is not a topic that leads itself to the vibrant engaging activity.  Well that is what I thought until last year when I decided to change how I approach the topic of Chirstian Prayer.  The main goal is no longer for students to know the difference between a petition and intercession, or private and corporate prayer. It is more important for each student to pray, to try new ways of praying, to see me pray, to hear and share stories of praying, to get comfortable praying from the heart and mind alone and with others.  Don't get me wrong I still teach "prayer vocabulary", but we speak and write prayers while learning term.

Most recently, my students finished a simple project in which they created visual Our Father slide-shows.  Once they are finished, we use student visual prayers to begin class.  It has produced a deeper insight into the meaning behind each word of the prayer.  This was only done after weeks of careful study and discussion on the meaning of the payer.

The Religion Teacher, a blog that I regularly read, recently posed another great prayer method.
As Christians we are programmed to pray with our hands usually held together tightly. The five finger prayer method is a great way for children to literally pray with their hands and fingers.  You can pray this prayer together with your kids in class or have them pray it at home in their personal prayer time or with their families. 


The Five Finger Prayer Method for Kids | The Religion Teacher | Catholic Religious Education:

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Aug 20, 2012

Is Your Town's History "Pinned"

Historypin is a great site that I just came across.  It allows you to "pin" old photographs with a short story of the event to a Google Map. Anyone can search by location and time.  The application is great for a classroom project on local history, especially because this site is new and still relatively few pins.



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Aug 8, 2012

Test Your Reaction Time

The New York Times has created a great game to measure your reaction time while driving and texting.  Apparently, my reaction time is .32 seconds slower while texting.

Gauging Your Distraction - Interactive Feature - NYTimes.com:

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Jul 31, 2012

Flip the Day

Flip the Day

Most of us are familiar with Bloom's Taxonomy.  Teachers begin new lessons by introducing the basic knowledge which students must memorize and understand before challenging students to use their new information in creative ways.

Well, it seems that this traditional model is being questioned.  Educators Dr. James Norwood recently suggested that we flip this model.  


In this model, students create before the basics of the lessons are introduced and cemented.  This speaks to an old question.  Should educators introduce a new lesson with an activity or use the activity after introducing terms and concepts.  A good case can be made for both options.  

I've never really used Bloom's Taxonomy as a road map when designing a lesson or unit.  Instead I've tried to do what was best for each topic.  Sometimes introducing a vocabulary, concpets, and facts first is necessary before challenging students to evaluate and create.  Other times, though not often, I've introduced an activity to generate interest  before discussing the concepts and terms.  
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Jul 18, 2012

Jun 27, 2012

Feds vs. Zombies, Really Maine?

Feds vs. Zombies, Really Maine?

I enjoy a good apocalypse movie, but I never thought that zombies were real.  Well not everyone things as I do.

The US Center for Disease Control has been forced to address the American public in the wake of internet rumors of a possible ‘zombie apocalypse”.  The CDC has previously run a few tongue-in-cheek campaigns about zombies, using the popular theme to get the public prepared for “anything”. As the agency’s director says, “if you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse, you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack".  But it’s now found itself in an unusual spot: having to treat the matter seriously. CDC spokesman David Daigle said the agency “does not know of a virus or condition that would reanimate the dead (or one that would present zombie-like symptoms)   Feds vs. Zombies: CDC officially denies 'Zombie Apocalypse' — RT:

A few weeks later residents in Main participated in a zombie apocalypse emergency drill.


Around 100 emergency responders from eight different counties participated in the event in the quiet city of Bangor. The premise: an unknown virus originating from Jamaica has reached Maine, turning the infected into zombies. Once infected, the virus quickly spreads to the brain, and turns the host into a full-fledged zombie, who has only one thing on its mind: biting other people.
The officials were armed with two would-be vaccines – one to prevent the infection from reaching the brain, and one to bring the zombies back to life. “We have identified in several states, particularly Texas, New York, Illinois outbreaks of these civil disturbances and biting,” one official said. “And in conjunction with that there are also widespread power outages.”The event may have been a staged act, with locals playing zombies, but it gave emergency responders an opportunity to prepare for a real life epidemic.   Drills of the dead: Main prepares for zombie attack --RT 


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Jun 23, 2012

An Untrustworthy Internet

Last summer I started a short-lived part time job with Leap Force.  My task was to read internet queries and evaluate the ten to twenty search results based on evaluation criteria, determine the appropriateness of each result, and flag any site I suspected of using spamming techniques.

One query that I remember was "make money from home online".   I often flagged these results as spam.  Often appearing in these queries were online companies like "Short Task" and "Microworkers" which act as a clearing house for web entrepreneurs to contract others to promote their business.  For example, if I were running an Amazon Store, I could go to one of these two companies and hire anyone to write positive comments beneath my products or "like" my store on Facebook.  The "worker" might earn $0.60 then do the same task.

The internet is supposed to be a pure democracy, with authentic comments and reviews.  When making online pursue a careful buyer will read comments with a degree of skepticism, but we assume that these comments were written by actual customers, not by people paid small amounts of money to write scripted feedback.  Now consider this when it comes to page rankings. One $0.06 task posted by a man named "Gerald Wolfe" was to search Yahoo, Bing, and Google with eight specific queries.  The way these search engines work, this man's page rank will increase.  Also, because of the specific nature of these terms, when you or I search for his name will produce auto fill text with his name and terms like "clients love him" and "positive experiences".  These are not authentic they are a manipulation of the internet .


We must be careful where we place our trust and make decisions based on reason, research, logic, and faith.
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Mar 27, 2012

Going To Church = A Better Mood

A recent Gallup report found that the majority of people who regularly attended Mass or Worship service on the weekend were happier that those who did not.
The churchgoers' positive emotions are especially high on Sundays -- while everyone else actually sees a decline in mood on that day, according to the findings of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
 The researchers found that people who frequently attend church had 3.36 positive emotions a day, on average. However, the positive emotions among people who never go to church numbered 3.08 per day, on average.
The difference in positive emotions remained true even after researchers adjusted for factors like income, age and education.
Most of us have intuitively known this for years.  We try to keep Sunday as a day for family, visiting, playing games, talking to those we love, sharing a home cooked meal, and most importantly giving time to thank and praise God.  This is a low stress day.  God gives to those who love Him.  He gives what we need and He knows what is needed.  Rest and relaxation on the "seventh day".


Going To Church Linked With Better Mood, Study Finds:


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