Domain 4E and Domain 3E

Posted in Professional Reflection on September 18, 2015 by Mister A

I am being formally evaluated this year which occurs every three years in our district.  My goals last time were to begin a mathematics program to attain another endorsement on my teaching certificate.  I finished that last December.  It was a difficult couple of years as far as how busy I was with things, and I vowed to my wife not to go back to school again, ever, as it was pretty stressful.  But it is a great feeling to finally be done and certifiable as a teacher in our state until 2024.  I learned a lot in the math program, and even won a small scholarship to help pay for my last couple of classes.  I was able to take some face to face classes for the first time since I got my initial teaching certificate which was great because I was able to see how other teachers taught in an environment similar to the one I am currently in.  But as a teacher you should always have some type of goals, which is the purpose of this blog post.

For my goals this time around, I have chosen to look back into working on professional reflection and improving my professional learning network.  I have fallen away from that a bit over the last couple of years, as my mathematics course load left time for little else.  However, I missed writing in my blog as it provides me with an outlet to really think about what I am doing in my classroom, what others are doing in their classrooms, and how I can better serve my students.  People should probably do that in every profession in which you have clients, which is pretty much, every profession.  I plan to try and write a reflective post every couple of weeks and also keep a written log of day to day things in my classroom, as I am having several of my students do the same thing.  Okay, this is getting a bit longwinded, so I will cut to the chase.

The official title of my first goal is Domain 4E:Reflecting on Professional Practice and Engaging in a professional learning community.  I believe I have a pretty good one established with twitter and perhaps my blog, although, probably not a lot of people read my blog anymore.  I have neglected these things over the past couple of years, but since our superintendent is kind of pushing this type of thing a little bit, maybe it is a good time to get back to it.  I hope to be able to share some of the things I have learned with regards to social media, with some of the teachers I work with during the course of the year.  I believe some of them will be open to it, while others, will not.  I probably need to work harder at sharing with other staff, if that other staff has any interest.

Domain 3E: Using Assessment in Instruction is the official title of my second goal.  This is the third or fourth time they have changed the way they do formal evaluations in our district and it seems like they are just using different words to describe the same things they did in the previous methods of evaluation.  For this goal, I plan to have my students do all their work for me in a mathematics journal.  I will correspond with them in this journal, and provide feedback on where they are at in the mathematics curriculum.  It will provide my a forum for checking for student understanding more effectively, and also a place where my students can also use the habit of mind of metacognition (reflection) about how, when, why, and where they learn the most effectively.

If anyone has any questions, comments, suggestions, or even reads this blog post, please feel free to comment on it.

On a Personal Note: My oldest son is off to college.  He has turned out pretty good so far, and I am extremely excited for him.  He is in an environment in which I believe he will truly flourish, even more so than he already has.  He has such passion and love for his chosen field, that the sadness I felt about his absence, was greatly diminished by the excitement I could see in his and my beautiful wife’s eyes.  Indeed, I am a lucky man.


Posted in Uncategorized on May 8, 2015 by Mister A

I have a son who had to write an essay for an award.  It asked what event has helped him grow more than any other event.  The essay is as follows.


            The event that I grew from the most during my high school career was definitely the death of my cousin Jake. It was my sophomore year, and Jake was seven years old. He is one of the most remarkable people I have ever had the privilege of spending time with, and he was only seven. He was smart and funny and above all he was loving. He truly adored everybody he met with all his heart. Everyone who met Jake was his friend in minutes. The way he lived his life every day was what made him such an amazing person. He enjoyed almost every hour he was alive. I never really thought about what an outstanding person he was until after he had passed away. When I began thinking about how he lived, I looked at the world from a new perspective. The biggest parts of my life that were affected were my relationships with other people, as well as the way I approach each new day and opportunity.


As I described, Jake was friends with everybody and made everyone smile.   He treated everybody like his best friend and made others happy when he was around. I could sense a change within myself after his death that made me want to live a little more like Jake. I wanted to be happy like he was. I started thinking about other people differently, and I found myself enjoying other people more and more. Jake was better than anyone at enjoying other people’s company. He could find something in everyone that he enjoyed, and he never disliked someone because of his or her faults. I realized something that Jake must have known already. That is that other people’s faults that annoyed me so much sometimes were not really big problems. They were stupid, petty reasons to be annoyed, and I could have just enjoyed their company instead of being bothered by it. After thinking in this way, I began to adore waking up every day, and I began enjoying people more and more. I look forward to seeing friends and family everyday now because of my new way of thinking, but also, because with Jake’s death, I lost a lot of my ego and gained some humility. I recognized that I am really not that big of a deal, and other people have just as much to do with my accomplishments as I do. Without other people, I would not be able to do some of the cool things I have the opportunity to do with music, French, and other things.


Over the past four years, and my whole life, I have had some pretty amazing opportunities that most teenagers, and even adults do not have the chance to experience. I will have been to France twice before I go to college, doing a family stay both times. I have performed a concerto with a professional symphony, and played in some of the most talented high school ensembles in the country. I would not have been able to do these things without some of the superb people I have the joy to spend time with every day. When I started thinking of people as good, instead of annoying, as I described in the previous paragraph, I began realizing how important other people were to me. I discovered what an amazing position I was put in to know amazing people who cared so much about my success. Without knowing my private music teachers and Mr. Kellogg, among others I have worked with, I would never have been able to participate in the musical endeavors that I do. Without Madame Davis asking me if I wanted to go on the French trip my sophomore year, I would have never been able to have that wonderful experience or the new experience in France I will have this coming summer. Without my parents’ support, none of these things would have been possible. This list goes on and on. And the really exciting part is that, at each of these new circumstances, I get to meet more amazing people.   Without Jake I would have never realized how good others are and also just how important other people are in my life. When I realized all of this, my view of everything had changed, and I kind of became a new person. I was excited to go to school every day and see what I could do, and I was excited to wake up every morning with new opportunities in front of me. This change did not happen instantly. It took months of thinking about these things to realize them, and I am still thinking about these things and changing because of them.


I figure now that, if I can live every day like Jake did, then I will end up in a place that I like. The love Jake had for other people was so admirable and splendid, but I might be misplacing the admiration a little bit, because the love he had came from his parents and sister, who loved him more than anything in the whole world. This is another thought that has stuck with me from Jake’s life and death. The love he had came from his family and went through him to other people, then from those people to other people. I try to think about this idea with each new opportunity that presents itself to me. If I can pass the compassion and love I have for music to other people, then maybe their day will be a little better because of it. If I can use my compassion for learning other cultures on to people I meet in other countries, maybe I will learn something, and those people will want to learn a little more about some other culture as well. I hope that someday, if I put enough passion into the things that I do, that other people can grasp that passion and share it with others. To do this I think I just have to live more like Jake and give everything as much time, passion, and love that I can. Every morning before Jake went to school, he would tell his parents, “Today’s going to be my best day.” And I believe he held up to that tough promise every day. If somebody can have that mentality with everything they do, then they will make a positive difference in the world. Jake certainly did, and I hope I will be able to do that with my life.

LRS – Learning Record Store

Posted in Learning Record Store on April 13, 2015 by Mister A

I have been reading about what shelly blake-block has been up to lately as I believe he has done incredible things in the classroom and it sent me in the direction of trying to understand what xAPI and LRS’s are. xAPI or (experience Application Programming Interface) is what teachers and designers would call it and Tin Can API is what developers would call it. An LRS is a place where you can record learning that happens for you at any time and xAPI is a way to get that learning to your LRS.  I think an LRS (learning record store) is simply a way to record learning and xAPI are methods used to get all that learning into one place which would be considered the LRS.  I don’t know if this is way off base but I think any individual learner can create there own LRS and their own xAPI using tags, various social media, a blog, and any mobile device or computer they interact with each day.  They can also utilize various softwares being created like Zapier, Idonethis, and ScormCloud to either deliver content or share their own learning with their LRS.  I am going to try and use this blog as an LRS and make a post each week about what I am learning.  I am using Zapier, gmail, and Idonethis to automatically post daily learnings as drafts to this blog and I will share them on Sundays. at the end of a post like this.  (not really sure of any of that) I once asked Dean Groom who was doing the coolest things in his classroom and he said it was teachpaperless.  and even though Dean can be a bit of an ODD DUCK…I really respect his opinion…. xAPI and LRS’s are what I think Shelley is messing with at Yet Analytics, so maybe I should follow suit…or at least learn about xAPI and LRS’s…so I think I will read Ender’s Game.

Listed Below are the drafts I posted during the week.  Learning improves when you think about what you are learning and have learned…I think that is called metacognition.

What I learned of 2015-04-12T14:31:11.959

I started my first weekly draft in my LRS. I watched the first episode in a documentary about Viet Nam. Things began really heating up there the year I was born…1965. US leaders decided that body count would determine who would win the war. In the battle of the Ia Dang Valley…US lost 252 soldiers and North viet nam VC lost 3000. US considered this a huge victory and according to the documentary is why they decided a war of attrition would be their best bet. I wonder what my friend wales thought about that. this is his hat.

What I learned of 2015-04-11T02:43:19.426

I started learning about various xAPI apps and LRS sites that can be used to document learning.

I gained a better understanding of xAPI, LRS’s and application integration.

I made zapier, idonethis, and scormcloud accounts and began experimenting with them. I am still unsure how all this is supposed to work but it was fun to mess with.


I started messing with Scorm Cloud and continued to try and better understand xAPI.


Posted in Educational on July 30, 2014 by Mister A

I started a road trip this week to check out colleges for my older son who will be a senior in the coming year.  So I had to finish up my diverse learning tools assignment and a few of my discussion posts using hotel WIFI, my laptop, and my iphone.  We checked out Northwestern University and although it is a bit expensive, it is really something to see.  In the little bit I saw in the tour and talking to some of the people here,  they seemed to be on the cutting edge of what everything I read says is best practice.  Ninety five percent of their classes have fewer than 20 students.  The professor:student ratio is 7:1.  They utilize Project Based Learning, Internships, research opportunities, Socratic Method, and learning abroad and overseas, in nearly everything.  The opportunity at Northwestern seemed incredible.  My son became so excited and so did I.  It made me want to go back to college.  Although it will be expensive, I hope my son gets to go to that university, as it really seemed like something special, like I want my classroom to look.  I guess this goes a little with my post in the PD section as I am learning about all kinds of things right now on this trip, and I am also continuing to learn about the materials in this class.  It is always interesting to me when I see connections to what I am learning in this classroom, to what I am learning outside this classroom.  We are in Appleton, WI today, looking at another pretty good Music School, but I think Northwestern may have already hooked my son.  I know it hooked me.

Montana… so pretty!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 1, 2014 by Mister A

Mister A:

I got to know a few friends even better than I knew them before.

Originally posted on Bianca Hewes:

Our train rattled in to Shelby, Montana at 8.30am. It had been a very easy trip from Seattle, with the four of us sleeping comfortably in the family room on neat little beds. If you ever decide to Amtrak it from one side of America to the other with your family, I recommend you spend the extra money and get a family sleeper room. It gives you a private space to hang out as well as full dining service included. Our boys really love it.
Shelby. How to describe Shelby, Montana? Small, quiet, bordering on desolate. We got in early so had time to sit in the bright warm sun for a while before our ride came – Jeff Agamenoni and his kids plus their French home stay student. Jeff and his family offered to look after us whilst we were in Montana – we’ve known Jeff for ages through…

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Posted in Uncategorized on January 6, 2013 by Mister A

I am so sorry for the loss of a nephew of mine named Jake.  My utmost sympathy and condolences go out to my brother in law, John, Jake’s Mom, Tracy, and Jakes sister, Rylee. I was one of the lucky ones who was able to spend some of Jake’s last days here on earth with him.  This was my experience.

I teach Mine Craft to kids in Great Falls, or should i say, they teach it to me.  John asked my wife, Joan, if I would show Jake how to navigate and play and create in Mine Craft, when he came to Great Falls over Christmas break, because John and Tracy and Rylee just didn’t get it.  They didn’t understand how it worked and why Jake and other kids were so fascinated with it.  I thought it might be helpful to them if I tried to explain kids’ fascination, Jake’s fascination somehow.

First of all, a Mine Craft world is huge, as big as the planet Uranus.  And when I say that…my students always say “you mean, YerAnus”.  They can travel and teleport and fly any where they want in that huge world.  There are forests and jungles and deserts and huge caves and mines and oceans and rivers and lakes. There is rain and snow and thunder and darkness and light. It really is a beautiful place.

When I was showing Jake some things last Saturday night on Mine Craft, he looked up at me with his big excited eyes and said, “Look, Jeff! I can fly right up into space, and I can almost see forever!”

Another cool thing in Mine Craft, is that kids have access to any kinds of blocks they want to build with.  There are diamonds and gold and coal and obsidian and any kind or color of wool u need.  There are foods like cake and roast beef and porkchops.  Jake told me he was gonna learn how to build an Oreo.  My students can raise chickens and cattle and pigs and have dogs and cats and entire villages of people who are willing to share what they have with them.  They create farms and grow and raise crops like carrots and potatoes and bamboo.  Jake started building a house on our Mine Craft server out of gold.  He was building a little dog house right behind it out of Lapis Lapuzi block.  I am not sure what that is, but Jake liked its name.


Jake and I starting on his gold house. His dog house is behind us.

Jake was so excited when i showed him how to wear his armor.  He asked, with that enthusiasm so unique to him, “Can my helmet be gold and my legs be diamond and my chest be iron?”  I told him that in Mine Craft, you get to make your armor however you like and his face lit up in joy.

You sometimes need that armor to protect you from scary things, like creepers and spiders and zombie pigmen and endermen, even a dragon.  But what is really cool about Mine Craft is that the creepers cannot hurt you when you are in creative mode, which I think is the mode that Jake liked to be in the most.  And if they do try to harm you, you can slay them and get really good loot.

I think the most important reason why kids are so fascinated with Mine Craft is that in Mine Craft, you are never alone.  There are always others there with you, exploring, building, creating and having fun.

I think that some people don’t get or understand Jake’s fascination with Mine Craft is because for them, what I just described is not, could not be a real place, but for kids like Jake, it is as real and beautiful and fascinating as places out here are. I was so looking forward to exploring with, learning from, and playing with Jake in Mine Craft.  I am disappointed tremendously that I will have to wait.

I imagine, believe, and hope heaven is little bit like the Mine Craft I described above.  I believe Jake’s soul was ready for a place like that.


My students built a shrine by Jake’s build.

Big Head or Pirate

Posted in Gifted, Prime Number Posts on December 17, 2012 by Mister A

Very often I tell my students stories that aren’t always entirely true.  One of my favorites is the one about my wives.  You see, my first wife was a pirate.  She died 21 years ago in a bungee jumping accident.  That’s right, my first wife was a bungee jumping pirate! I tell my students.   My second marriage was a total disaster.  She had a tiny head and criticized me about everything I did.  Nothing was ever good enough for her.  I should have never gotten into that marriage so quickly but I was on the rebound from the death of the pirate. Small Head’s name was Snydley.  My final and current wife use to work at hickory farms.  She was the lead cheese cutter there when we met.  She has an abnormally large, but beautiful head…and only one eyebrow.  I am attracted to large headed one eye browed women…and a mullet, curly on the top, straight on the sides…with a little bit of acne.  She is extraordinarily humble and always open to new ideas.  She was one of the subjects in the Habit of Mind study done on highly successful people by Dr. Arthur Costa.  She is the kindest woman I have ever met…the antithesis of Snydley, my second tiny headed with a string bean body wife.

That is a rough synopsis of the stories I tell my students about my wives.  At the end of each year, I ask my students to describe which of my three wives is their favorite.  A very insightful student I have wrote the following in his response to the question.
I like Big Head because to me she almost represents the changes that you have made. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but your wives almost seem like an allegory to the evolution of you as a person. At first you were reckless and perhaps less thoughtful(pirate wife), but then you evolved to someone who is too critical of themselves(small head), and then finally you became Big Head, the person of today who is a practitioner of thinking and living in the moment. Big head is my favorite because she is thoughtful, humble, and embraces change, just like you.
My student, Ashlen, is way too kind.  I guess he learned about allegory somehow, and as important or even more importantly, so did I.

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