Friday, September 20, 2013

YouTube channel

I now have a YouTube channel!  I am posting the lessons from class to the channel.  There likely won't be anything really innovative since I am simply recording the audio and desktop, but it is a start.  I am working on an overall tech plan for our school as a part of my Master's Degree, so expect more in the near future.

In the past, I have written the lesson on a Smart Board and emailed the notes, if there were any, to the students as a PDF.  This will open it up for them greatly, and so far the reviews from them are good.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Back Online

After nearly a two year hiatus, I am back!  I dropped the blog because I was working in the oil and gas fields in Colorado and North Dakota and got very busy in mudlogging, geosteering, and running my business.  I decided to drop it and go back into teaching in August 2012, and now one year later I am reimplementing some of the tools that I used as a teacher in previous years. 

I am currently teaching Math 4 (Algebra 2/Geometry/ Probability and Statistics), AP Calculus AB, and I have recently taken over the Industrial Arts program at Grand Valley High School in Parachute, CO.  I hope to continue to be an innovative educator and have ideas for projects integrating Industrial Arts and mathematics as well as my experience in the oil field with my Calculus class.  I continue to look forward to serving those around me to the best of my ability and as Christ would have me serve.

I am also currently working on an Education Leadership Master's degree, which will allow me to further enlarge my sphere of influence within the education world.  Many blessings!

Jason, Project Based Math Teacher

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A new idea!

I am in Colorado right now with my brother in law and father in law at a location near Ignacio, CO. We are at a drilling rig location looking for natural gas in the coal seams. I have learned several new ways to apply math so far and hope to be able to build them into a teaching project someday. It is a really near process and one that I think people could benefit from knowing.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Day of Thanks

With all the hustle and bustle of the past couple of weeks, with all of the excitement of Microsoft's PILGF, and with the load we all undoubtedly came back to at school because of our travels, today is a great day to take a seat, sit back, and be thankful for everything that we have been so blessed with. 

I am reminded of the first Day of Thanksgiving under our Consitution, when George Washington, as our first President, declared a day to give thanks to God and take rest.  The traditional day, of course, was declared by one of our greatest leaders, President Abraham Lincoln, to be the fourth Thursday of November.  Please take a moment to read his original declaration here: 

To bring us back to our current times, the question becomes:  What am I thankful for?

Firstly, I am so thankful for God's presence in our lives, and that he gives us wisdom and ability to glorify him daily.  Thank you Lord for the freedoms we live with and the blessing of being in the United States and the prosperity we live in.

Secondly, I am thankful for my family.  My wife is such a God-send, pushing me to be a better man and respecting me for who I am, even when my mistakes shine through.  Our little girl Vivian is so beautiful and such a good kid.  God has truly blessed us with her.  Our primary and extended families are also so loving and caring.

I am also thankful for the time we have had in Alaska.  Even though we are moving to Colorado soon, I have had the privilege of truly experiencing Alaska, from hunting moose, bear, caribou, etc to teaching Hunter Education and Winter Survival courses at -40 degrees.  The fishing has also been something I remain thankful for.  God blessed us with such an abundant supply of both fish and game meat that we were giving it away by the boxful.  He provided for others through us, and that I am thankful for.

Next, I am thankful for my profession and work involving children.  It is truly an honor to be involved with the youth of our country.  If we want to truly transform our country at its base, the schools are where it has to begin.  We must not forget to instruct them properly in the history and culture of our country so that we keep our identity and freedoms.  I also had a wonderful time at the Forums this year sponsored by Microsoft.  What a great experience!  It was great to be thanked in such a grand manner.

Last, but certainly not least, I am so thankful to be a US citizen in the greatest country on Earth.  I pray we can come out of our current rut and sustain our prosperity and ability to do good as a country.  Thank the Lord that we can spread good and be the force against evil in this world.  Most of all, thank the soldiers and armed forces that secure our freedom and keep us free of the encumbrances that many of the world live in, including oppression, lack of food, corrupt governments, and the like.  Being in DC on Veteran's Day at the Laying of the Wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier truly woke me up to the sacrifices so many have made to keep us free.

Many thanks to all of my friends and people who have pushed me to be a better person and Christian man.  I love you all and only pray that I can see you once again!


Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 4, Microsoft PILGF

Alright, this is it, the last day of the experience of a lifetime.  Many of us viewed it as a much more relaxed day because we had some breaks and, thankfully, the judging was over.  We started out with our morning keynote at the Warner Theatre as a panel discussion about education.

There were four ladies (can I have some diversity, guys?) that talked about topics ranging from teacher pay and respect to getting students in the real world to do projects (2012 election was this example).  They all did a fine job and had some great ideas and insights into education.  I wish I could elaborate more about it, really.

Next, we moved to the final exhibit viewing.  I had minimal traffic, but saw a few interested folks and made some good contacts for the future.  Naturally, people were most interested in the video game next to me.  I guess this is the point where I started to reflect on my choice of items at my booth.  I wanted to have an Alaska fishing video running, but was told that I couldn't use copyrighted goods, so that was impossible.  I think I should have simplified my poster a bit, too, to exclude "about me" and "about the school" and include a big graphic highlighting the test scores that improved in the project.  Other enhancements may have included a more interactive method of presenting the subject matter.

In the afternoon, we met with our learning excursion groups.  Jinan, Maureen, Indra, Susana, and I embarked on elaborating on our project.  We were able to come up with our solid, concrete foundation from which to work, and came up with a plan to get the work done in a quality manner.  My job is to build the mathematics scaffolding necessary and then do the VCT and submit it to the Partners in Learning website.  Easy enough!

After four days, we are finally at the National Art Gallery for the Gala Dinner and Reception!  What an exciting time.  Again, we were treated like royalty and given access to the art in the museum for our viewing pleasure.  There is so much there that it is impossible to see it all in one trip.  Pauline, Kelli, and I looked at as much as we could, but we were called out to the awards dinner soon.

We came in to a marching band, and man that was cool!  They were loud and obnoxious, just the way we like it in America.  Next, we got to see Stomp! perform one of their routines.  It was neat because they got our attention in a unique way.  A waiter had been milling around picking up dishes, and when he was walking by the stage, he fell over, making a huge crash of silver ware and dishes.  Next thing we know, there are two guys attending to him that bust out of the fray pounding on the water carafe's that he had dropped.  Then, they are on stage with plastic buckets putting on a show.  They had break dancers, too, who were pretty good.

Next, we ate a great 3 course dinner with a salad, steak, and a dessert that was awesome!  The chocolate piece in the dessert even had a "Microsoft Partners in Learning" inscription on it.  How neat.  They definitely went all out.

We then got to the moment we were all waiting for, the awards.  First, the mentor schools were recognized.  I was very proud to see Highland Tech ( as one of them, leading the charge in innovation.  Go HTH!

Next the awards.  I was definitely hoping to win, but it wasn't to be.  The competition was fierce and it was a matter of a point here or there that decided the final outcome.  One bad judging session and you are sunk (my first one, Taiwan).  The judge from Ireland did come by to shake my hand and tell me I had one of the best projects here, and that I should have won. 

But, as a US team, we did very well, winning 3/7 categories!  When Fish Fly won Innovative Use of Microsoft Technology, Illuminated Mathematics won in Knowledge Building, and Lou Zulli won with his project.  Chants of USA, USA! filled the dinner hall each time we won.  It was so cool!  We are so very proud of them for taking it home for the US.

Then it became party time!  The stage was full of dancers, everybody was talking and taking pictures, and we were just putting the cap on a fantastic week. But we weren't done yet!  As a US team, we were invited to Stacey Rainey's room for drinks and social time.  It was good to get to know them in a different light.  Andrew Ko, of Microsoft, says he wants to go hunting with me next year!  I am very excited for that, and hope it works out.  I love teaching others how to hunt and provide for their families.

I got to my hotel at about 2:30 am, finally feeling tired from days of activity.  But I wasn't done yet!  Erin and I had scheduled to stay until Monday so we could Tour DC.  After three more exhaustive days of walking around the monuments, we headed home, and here we are, ready for our next adventure!

Day 3, Microsoft PILGF

Day 3, Surprise!  We are changing the schedule.  Oh boy, the groans from us began!  We couldn't help but wonder why the schedule was changed...has the President made a schedule change to visit us on short notice, some ask?  Nope.  But, Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado has.  He is a member of the education committee of the Senate and a passionate supporter of education.  At 8am, he talked to us about education and its impacts that are felt throughout society, including reduced poverty, crime, and increased wealth and stability.

Near the end of his short talk, Cheryl Arnett, a Colorado educator, looks at me and says, "Let's go meet him."  I say, "You're crazy!"  In my mind, I am thinking somebody is going to take poorly to people rushing over to a sitting Senator.  But, his enterouge is fine with it, and we meet him and snap pictures with him.  It was a neat experience.

Next, we moved to the keynote for the morning with Dave Christian, and "The Big Picture Project."  Dave Christian is an Historian turned scientist from Australia.  At its foundation, the project is a great idea.  The concept is to teach kids the big picture about our creation and reason for being.  It addresses the big bang, evolution, religion's role, archaeology, etc.  It is a 5 billion year account of the earth's history in one college course.

Now, I am a skeptic on nearly everything that I see and hear.  This fell into my category of "needs MUCH more research."  There is a lot of science in the project, but it is presented as cold hard truth, fact that can't be altered (i.e. we have this whole thing figured out, even though we weren't there).  It completely ignores the science behind other theories, including Creationism/Intelligent Design.  When probed about this by a US educator, Dave's answer sounded good, "we aren't telling people what to believe, but we are presenting a scientific worldview...."  The problem is that once you dig into the project, the intent is to discount creationism/intelligent design and tell the students what to believe.  This happens because it is what Dave Christian believes; he inserts his own opinion very strongly into the curriculum whilst reserving his good answers for the media.  At any rate, I am not a fan, but I like the overall concept of teaching a big picture.

Next, we headed for more judging!  Our last session.  I had a judge from Ireland, and I was able to present the information to him in a way that he got it!  It was my best presentation yet.  After the awards, he even commented to me that, "You had a very strong project, one of the best, and I scored you very high."  More to come on that later.  I was excited after this session, thinking I had a chance to take home a victory.

Still, the booth next door was blocking my booth continuously, even though they made steps to change their setup to accommodate me.  It was a great, nice gesture, but proved minimally effective.  I saw very little outside traffic during that session, too, much like the day before.  Also, when I arrived in the morning, somebody had stolen two of my books off of my booth!  I was fired up, but there was no way to figure out who it was.  I guess I will not trust others with security anymore.  The weird thing was that it was very targeted.  There was technology worth so much more laying all over the place, but the books disappeared.  I will likely have to replace them because I use them so much.

The Project Based Learning Handbook
Tool Time for Education

By this time of the day (lunch), we were all cooked!  In the afternoon, we were expected to spend a couple of hours on our learning excursions, and we did it, but it was slow going.  Our group did manage to come up with a good idea, though.  We are going to test pH in water samples from all over the world, have the students in each area research aquatic life health, and then have the students compare their results with the other groups around the world via video conference in order to determine if there is a correlation between pH and aquatic health.  It should be neat.

We had one more open booth session in the afternoon, but no judges were present.  It was merely for the schools and public to come by to see our work and gain insight into innovative educators and education.  I saw only two people at my booth, but both had heard about the project and wanted more information.  They also took my contact info so they could get a hold of me later.  Overall, I had a a lot of interest from Canada, Mexico, Ireland, and Britain.  Hopefully it will open some doors!

The rest of the night centered a reception, the movie, "American Teacher," and Microsoft's "Experience Pavilion."  I didn't attend the movie in favor of seeing my wife and baby, but the Experience Pavilion was really neat.  My favorite station was using Kinect to learn Mathematics.  They were gathering data from a source next door (dancing), and converting that into graphing and solving quadratics.  Neat!  Ginger Blackmon, our Principal at Highland Tech, later quipped, "Meghan is going to flip when I bring one of those home to her."  Meghan is a math teacher at Highland.

Alas, day 3 was over and I could go to bed!  I thought I should be tired, but I wasn't.  Lack of sleep and a busy schedule had not got to me yet.  On to day 4 and the Gala Dinner!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Check it out

Be sure to visit the tabs in the blog "projects" and "project ideas." Maybe you can use my stuff in your classroom or contact me and we can work together on a project!