Tag Archives: teaching

W^2 – history

WARNING: it’s Wednesday so I titled the post W^2, but it’s hardly wordless.

It’s spring break and we’ve escaped then blustery chill of a midwestern early spring for the Florida Keys and sun, wind, and sand. Mostly sun.

I remember my first visit to the Keys with my in-laws in 2002. Our son had recently turned four and my wife was pregnant with our daughter. We arrived in Miami and were picked up by my in-laws at the airport.

Until then, my only experience with Florida had been passing through the airport on the way to somewhere else: Venezuela or England to spend the summer or Christmas with my dad and stepmother.

With my father-in-law at the wheel we wove our way through Miami traffic to Homestead and US1. US1 is the only road from the Florida mainland at the tip of the Florida peninsula to the Keys where it terminates at Key West.

US1 travels along the path of the defunct Miami to Key West extension of the Florida East Coast Railway. Construction of the railroad began in 1903 and was completed in 1913. The railway operated until 1935 when the Labor Day hurricane washed out the rail bed in Islamorada and the railroad abandoned the railroad. Two years later the Florida Highway Commission purchased the right of way and began construction of a highway to Key West. They used the old railroad bridges constructing roadbeds atop the concrete viaducts and bridges built by the railroad. Over the years, the highway has replaced the original railway bridges with wider end more modern concrete bridges.

The view from the bridge to the Atlantic Ocean

The first several miles of the two lane road travel along the path of the old railway. First through the thick mangrove swamps and across Lake Surprise before reaching Key Largo where the highway opens up to the Atlantic Ocean on the left and Florida Bay to the right.

As the highway bridges were replaced, the original railroad bridges were left in place. Most have been repurposed as fishing platforms or observation decks and others have been left to decay and breakdown in the elements. The Seven Mile Bridge has a two mile extension from Knight’s Key Key to Pigeon Key open to walkers and bicycles with breathtaking sunset views.

Anyway, Tuesday afternoon my buddy and I (we are here with another couple) took off on an adventure stopping at the western approach to the Bahia Honda Bridge.

The original railroad bridge on the left and the new highway bridge on the right. Looking west from Bahia Honda State Park – photo from 3/28/2017

The old bridge has been abandoned since the present bridge was completed in 1977. The original railroad bridge is an iron trestle bridge which was only wide enough for a single railroad track and the passage of a single train. The highway engineers decided to construct a two lane road atop the railroad trestle to connect the two keys, or islands.

Continue reading W^2 – history

W^2 – expected

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, January 24, 2024

On approach to Midway International Airport, Lake Michigan ice. Wednesday January 17, 2024 1:14 PM

Lately it seems that my life has been filled with all sorts of unexpected things, so much so that it has distracted me from the expected things in life.

It’s January in the upper Midwest. It gets cold in January, that is expected. When it gets cold here, ice forms on Lake Michigan. What is unexpected is why I was flying on a Wednesday, but there is more to that story, for now there is lake ice on Lake Michigan and a glimpse of the Chicago skyline.

Today I am going to focus on the expected things in life – family, school, taking care of my puppies, and taking care of me. So I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day, and press publish. Making the days Count, one day at a time, exploring, learning, and being curious and focusing on the expected things in life.

What’s been unexpected or expected in your world?

Say their names….

It’s Monday, Nine-eleven.

Every year, I go back to my seventh-grade geography class when I first learned of the horror of that morning. It was son’s first day of school of school and his excitement was dashed when he saw his mother, my wife, standing television set crying as she watched the news unfold that Tuesday morning twenty-two years ago. She comforted him when he asked,

“Why are you crying momma” he asked.

She collected herself and replied,

“It’s just bad news.” She replied.

It was bad news and we have come together and moved forward since that awful day.

a replica of the fifteen star, fifteen stripe flag which flew over Fort McHenry on September 13, 1814.

I am reminded of the names on this day, some two thousand nine hundred seventy-five men, women, and children who perished that morning.

This summer I stumbled across the 9/11 Memorial of Maryland in downtown Baltimore. Earlier in the day I had visited Fort McHenry and seen a replica of the flag which had flown the night the British bombarded the fort. It had fifteen stripes and fifteen stars. The memorial moved me to create a movie of me reading each the victim’s names.

Todd Beamer, LeRoy Homer, Wanda Anita Greene, and Honor Elizabeth Wayne

I am inspired by the events of that morning and fellow bloggers Beth at I Didn’t have My Glasses and Mary at Wilderness of Words who encouraged me to say their names.

It is Monday, the first day of a new week. It’s raining for the first time in weeks, and it is going to be an amazing day. I know it and I. can feel it, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, saying their names, so we never forget.

Is there a name you remember from that day?  

W^2 – ducky

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, August 30, 2023

It is Wednesday and I am feeling ducky. I am five days into my twenty-fifth year of teaching and feeling like a duck on dry land, or perhaps skewered on a car antenna.

Rubber duckies on a car antenna, Naperville, IL, August 19, 2023 10:30 AM

I spied these rubber duckies on a car antennae a couple of Saturday’s ago while volunteering at Loaves and Fishes. The car’s owner is a regular and she lifts us up with the joy she shares with the world through her personality and her sticker adorned car.

I noticed the rubber duckies were a new addition and I talked to her on her way out.  She shared her story of how the week before she’d been on a trip with her family and collected more than a dozen rubber duckies playing a game and decided to skewer them on her car’s antenna.

A new school year is full of joy and excitement. It’s also change from the carefree life of summer break and audition for retirement. I inched a little closer this year to retirement this school year as I began my twenty-fifth year of teaching. Interestingly, this year also marks the fiftieth anniversary of my own year as a sixth grader, time marches on.

This morning I am more than just ducky; I am filled with joy and passion and excitement for learning. Today is going to be an amazing day, it just might be a million and six times better than yesterday. I get to teach kids and share my passion and curiosity.  So, I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the days Count, one day at a time, exploring, learning, and being curious.

How is your summer finishing?

me, first day of school. 25th year of teaching and 50 years since I was a 6th grader, Wheaton, IL August 24, 2023 6:40 AM

Tuesday’s Tune: Thank God I’m a Country Boy

Summer break is winding down and next week at this time, I’ll be getting ready for a new group of students. I am excited and I am looking forward to this year, it will be my twenty-fifth year of teaching.

Today, I am travelling home from last ballpark trip for the summer. I was in Florida for two games: Sunday in Tampa Bay and Monday in Miami – both indoor games. It was hot and humid in Florida much warmer than is comfortable for me.

A couple of weeks after school ended, I attended a professional development opportunity put on by Adobe to teach me how to use their newly updated software – Adobe Express. Click the link to check it out! I’ve been using Adobe Express this summer to edit photos, create a graphics,  and in general  playing with it toying with possibilities of using it with my students.  I am sticking with iMovie for videos because the software is the same on my iPhone, iPad, and my MacBook. And it is easy to use.

Monday night’s graphic

After each ballpark visit, I’ve created a video and posted it to my YouTube channel. I started during last year’s trip recording the seventh inning stretch and then adding the national anthem. I’ve been working on my video production and editing skills adding new elements to each video.

Sometimes I feel like a country boy as technology in the classroom continually evolves. My first year of teaching was almost entirely paper and pencil (or pen) for me and my students. This year, almost all of what I do will involve using technology for presentations to assignments and assessments but I still am going to ask them to use paper and pen for their notebooks in class.

last Thursday’s graphic – after 25 ball parks more than a hundred baseball games, I finally got a game ball.

Last week when I was in Baltimore, I recorded the national anthem and posted the video along with last week’s W^2 (wordless Wednesday) I changed the name to anthem, it made more sense to have a single word, rather than the phrase ‘O say can you see.’ Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune: Thank God I’m a Country Boy

W^2 – anthem (renamed)

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, August 9, 2023

It is Wednesday, and I am in Baltimore for another baseball trip. This city and ballpark make 25 of 30. I have one last trip before school starts in less than two weeks.

These baseball trips have been more than baseball. Each stop has been an adventure full of curiosity, history, learning and growth, and excitement. Sometimes it is planned, but most times it simply happens.

the Star-Spangled Banner, Fort McHenry Baltimore, Maryland August 8, 2023 2:14 PM

Yesterday, I arrived my flight from Chicago arrived late morning. I had planned to visit Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine before checking in to my hotel. Fort McHenry guards, or guarded, Baltimore Harbor in 1814 during the War of 1812. The British had planned to invade and take over Baltimore in September 1814. The War of 1812 was started by the fledgling United States who was losing the war to the might British Empire. Only weeks before, in August, the British had routed the Americans in Washington, D. C. and burned the White House.

But the British attack on Baltimore is the unravelling of the British advantage and the strengthening of American resolve. In battle it isn’t always might and strength which decides the outcome of a conflict. Sometimes it’s an idea.

During the British bombardment of Fort McHenry an American, Francis Scott Key, watched the battle from a ship in Baltimore harbor. When morning came, he looked across the harbor to see the fort and he saw the American flag flying through the ‘dawns early light.’ He retreated to his sea cabin and penned a poem which spread like wildfire across the young American nation.

In 1931, the United States adopted this poem as its national anthem. We know the poem as “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?

The poem was four stanzas, and we sing only the first. Last night before the baseball game the crowd rose and sang the song proudly.

Today is going to be an amazing day, it just might be a million and six times better than yesterday although Tuesday night’s ballgame was the best baseball game, I’ve seen this season. Who knows? So, I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the days Count, one day at a time, exploring, learning, and being curious.

What adventure are you off to today?

POST PUBLICATION NOTE: I decided to change the post’s name, from O’ say can you see to anthem.

W^2 – bite

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, July 19, 2023

It is Wednesday, again. I am in Denver, Colorado for another baseball game. Last night’s game didn’t turn out well for my team, but they play 162 games in a season for a reason.

I arrived yesterday morning and had a full day planned, capped with walking to and from the ballpark.

goofing around at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver, Colorado July 18, 2023 10:51 MDT

My plan was to visit the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, lunch with a blogger, then the game. Sometimes things don’t go your way or lot of other people have the same idea. It turned out that I was not the only person who wanted to get a jump start on their day and when I arrived at the car rental facility I was well back in the line. The line moved smoothly and did get my car, but I was more than an hour behind schedule. Continue reading W^2 – bite

W^2 – colorful

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, July 12, 2023

For this week’s Wordless Wednesday, I have a closeup of one of our hummingbird feeders and a bonus, a reverse view with a hummingbird.

a hummingbird feeder from inside the house, Wheaton, IL Wednesday July 12, 2023 7:56 AM

Today is the thirty-seventh day of summer break, almost to the halfway mark. Earlier this morning storms rolled through with lightning, thunder, and heavy rain. We need the rain after a very dry spring. The flowers came despite the lack of April showers.

The birds came, too.

Several years ago, I added a few bird feeders to our backyard. It was the summer of ’18 and I was recovering, or rehabilitating, from my first knee replacement surgery. I had been reading the a book Where the Poppies Grow by British author John Lewis-Stempel. I learned about the book while reading a blog post at From Pyrenees to Pennines in one of Margaret’s many blogposts about reading.

Both changed my life. The book and thus the bird feeders and the knee surgeries, in December ’18 I had the other knee replaced. I’ve never looked back. Continue reading W^2 – colorful

Wordle, is it a game or a challenge?

It’s Monday, Day 21 and I wasted yesterday. Really wasted it. I spent the entire afternoon on things unimportant and certainly not urgent.

One day summer won’t be summer break, it will be life in retirement. I’ve often told folks who marvel my summer break (envy) that I think of summer break as an audition for retirement. If so, I am not going to get a call back.

In my last post I referenced the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I was replying to a comment and I found a great resource from the folks at FranklinCovey, it’s an overview of the 7 Habits – click if you like. I’ve been using their products for over twenty years to plan my day and organize my daily and weekly tasks. Every year I get a little better at it learning from my failures and successes.

my stats as of Monday, June 26, 2023

One of the parts of my daily routine playing the New York Times Wordle. I don’t remember how I started, but I did. It could’ve been my daughter, or the buzz on social media as folks posted their solution to the day’s Wordle. If you haven’t played it, it is a simple game. You have six guesses to guess the day’s word. The word is five letters long and with each guess you get feedback.

  • Green squares mean that the letter you guessed is in the correct position in the day’s word.
  • Yellow squares mean the letter you guessed is in the word day’s but not in that space.
  • Gray squares mean that the letter you guessed is not in that day’s word.

According to an article in The Ledger, there over 158,000 five-letter words in the English language, but the Official Scrabble Dictionary puts the number at about 9,000 words. Somewhere I read the Wordle game has a dictionary at just over 2,300 words and doesn’t use plurals as solutions.

I find Wordle challenging, and I find it frustrating, too. Most mornings, playing the day’s Wordle is the last thing I do before getting started on the day – showering and heading off to school. But in the summer, I have more time and less urgency (and thus more time to write and dream).

Some days, the puzzle takes five to ten minutes or as quickly as two minutes like it was this morning. And there are days when I can’t see a solution and come back later.

Last summer, I began to track my daily results and approach playing the game as a scientist. At the point, it took an average of 4.46 attempts to solve the puzzle. Since then, my average slowly declined and is currently 4.05 attempts to solve the puzzle, though the month of June has been awful with a miss and several five and six attempt days and a monthly average of 4.23. Continue reading Wordle, is it a game or a challenge?

Day 18 – Friday, not just another day?

This morning as I stumbled through my morning routine, I noted in my reflection and gratitude app that it was Friday. Normally Friday would bring joy and be amazing, but during the summer when it is summer break, Friday is simply another day.

Thursday evening’s sunset

Fridays during the school year bring joy and anticipation of weekend plans and a less structured day. During summer break, almost every day is less structured! I try to keep that in mind as I plan and execute my day and my week. As the summer winds down, structure is what I look forward to about returning to school.

Years ago, I read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Reading the book was difficult. It was full of ideas about personal management and was more of a textbook for life. I finished it and every so often, I open it, and re-read or leaf through the pages. The habit I rely on most during the unstructured summer is Habit 3: Put First Things First. Reading that book, changed my life. Continue reading Day 18 – Friday, not just another day?