Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Last Day of Summer School and First Day of Summer

Teaching summer school isn’t that bad, it just delays the start of your summer vacation a few weeks. Tomorrow will start my “official” summer break. I can’t wait. I have a ton of stuff to do and the extra time to get it done will be nice, especially with a big trip coming up. I am also hoping to spend some time with a new activity that I have known about for a long time but am going to try for the first time tonight (Insert your own joke here). I’m going to try my hand at geocaching tonight. Geocaching is basically hiking with a purpose. People have hidden small caches of items. Some are easy to get to and others are more difficult. I will be starting tonight with a couple of easy ones at Stocksdale Park in Liberty. Basically you use a GPS to find the exact coordinates for where the loot is hidden. You write your name in the log book and then you can take an item if you leave an item. I will probably be taking some type of small space related item that I got at the National Space Symposium. If you would like to look into geocaching, you can register on their site for free www.geocaching.com. They offer a premium membership which I may eventually do but the free membership allows you to get the coordinates for your searches. I will post an update soon of how my hunt goes tonight. I’m also taking the dog so that could also prove entertaining.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Library Thing

I am always on the lookout for cool gadgets and this is my new favorite. I think there are several others like it but this was the first on that I found. I like to share with my kids what books I’m reading, whether it be a book for school, or one that I’m reading for fun. I have tried in the past to add a list of books that I’m reading, and that I want to read to my web site and it is always a hassle to keep it updated. That’s where “Library Thing” comes in. This is a site that for free (up to 200 books) allows you to keep a list, add comments, and rate the books. The other cool thing is that it matches you with people with similar reading lists. The part that I like the best is that I was able to add a widget to this blog that shows the covers of those books. I think this is a great visual way to show how important reading is, no matter what you are reading. As a matter of fact, the reason I discovered this was because it was on another blog I was reading and one of the covers on their list was a book that I have been wanting to read. I want to explore this more and take some time to look into the book lists of others. Check out my list to the left but keep in mind I've only been playing with this for a day so I need to add more books.


Dear Mr. Kelsey Blog

After messing up this blog earlier today, I have managed to make quite a few updates to my Dear Mr. Kelsey blog. If you haven’t been there before, head over there and check it out. This is where I am attempting to post the letters I have received from celebrities. Today I inadvertently posted a bunch of posts that were meant for the Dear Mr. Kelsey blog to this one instead. The good news is I learned something new on blogger, you can import and export posts between blogs. I figured there had to be a way to do it but today I learned how. Here is the address for the Dear Mr. Kelsey blog. I will try to update it more this summer as I scan the letters. Right now I have over 250 letters to students. I have a lot posted on the blog but there are always more to add.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Return to Posting . . . Hopefully

I have been absent from the blog scene for a while now. Last year, my first at South Valley Middle School, was an unbelievable whirlwind. It was a phenomenal year, probably one of the best of my career. I loved being able to focus on science and really create some fun lessons. It was a huge change to teach the same thing four times in a row but I found that this allowed me to make changes to lessons, and really have a good idea of what worked and what didn’t. This was definitely a change from the one and done mentality of elementary school. It was also nice to be able to spend time creating a lesson and know that I got to use it four times, instead of having to wait four years to do a lesson that many times. I am looking so forward to next year to try some new things, and go into the year having a better understanding of what middle school is all about. I already have some plans for beginning of the year activities, what my expectations will be, and some new projects for later in the year.

Broadcasting was also a blast to teach. I had 150 kids go through broadcasting this year and we never missed a deadline for a show. Each week, all year long we had a show on the air, even the week I was in Colorado. We had some amazing things happen for us this year. We had interviews with a Harlem Globetrotter, Author Darren Shan, John Walsh host of America’s Most Wanted, and Baseball Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr. We also covered a rally for VP candidate Joe Biden, and two of my kids got to shake his hand. We won several awards at the Reel Spirit Student Showcase and presented at the Capitol in Jefferson City.

This summer has been just about as busy as the regular school year. I have been teaching summer school (only 3 days left) and started the last two classes of my second master’s degree. I am also helping coach t-ball with my best friend and his son (this can also be read: I am now officially a cat herder). My wife and I are planning a HUGE trip this summer and I am looking so forward to that. I will be posting often from the road (hopefully tethering my Blackberry to the laptop will work as well on the road as it did the other day when I tested it).

We are going to be gone about 4 weeks this summer and we have some great places that we are going. We start out in Colorado Springs, where my wife gets to take a free Space Discovery Institute class from the Space Foundation. This will be her 6th class. She got this one for free because she was named a Space Foundation Teacher Liaison this year. I will not be taking this class, instead I will be doing some hiking around Colorado Springs. I will probably spend a day in Garden of the Gods, and I am planning on driving over to the Florissant Fossil Beds. There are also several other parks in the area that I want to hit.

After the week in Colorado Springs, we will be on the road for the next 21 days. My best friend is getting married in Jackson, Wyoming on the first of August so we are making a big loop through Los Angeles, San Francisco, and then to Jackson. I am really excited about a lot of the stops on the way. We will be going through a bunch of National Parks including: Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Capital Reef, Mojave National Preserve, Point Reyes, Muir Woods, The Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, and Golden Gate Park. We will also hit Goblin Valley State Park, this is where they filmed some scenes for Galaxy Quest. I’m excited about going to Donner State Park where the Donner Party made their winter camp. My wife is less excited about this. We also have a tour scheduled to tour the Jet Propulsion Lab and we will visit Ames Research Center, both in California. We also have several zoos and aquariums on our list as well as a couple of days at Disneyland. I’m also hoping to catch the taping of a TV show while in LA. Right now we have tickets to see Craig Furguson but we are hoping to get tickets to Conan O’Brian (it is a lottery) or maybe even The Price is Right.

I will be updating as we go this summer, and hopefully bringing back some resources to use in my classroom next year. If you have any suggestions, especially for science (or just cool) places to stop I would love to hear them.