Archive for the Personal Category

Must Do’s on the Big Island of Hawaii (for the Stukey)

Posted in Personal, Vacation on March 10, 2012 by Mister A

This post is for my friend Katie.  She told me she was going on a vacation to the Big Island of Hawaii and I told her I would let her know what the must do’s are when she gets there.  She is already gone now though, so really this post is for me to share the best vacation I think I have ever been on.  Here is what we did and what everybody should do when they go to the Big Island of Hawaii.

volcano is SMOKIN!

Go see the volcano.  It’s probably not the coolest thing we did when we were there but…IT’S A VOLCANO! It is where our earth is born and if you get a chance you might actually get to see some glowing lava.

Don’t forget to go golfing with your Uncle.  Golfing in Hawaii is very cool.  No waiting and man, is the grass ever plush there.

golfin with uncle leonard

The next must do is hang out at beaches.  My favorites were Waipio valley and hapuna.  It was the first time I had ever been to Waipio valley and we had a terrific day body surfing and just hanging out.  You might get a cool picture like the one below of you and your kids.

ME and Da Boyz hangin at the beach

Another cool thing we did was go fishing.  I think we were very lucky as I have talked with many people and no one has ever had a day like you can see we had from the picture below.  It was the best day of fishing I have ever experienced.  And, man, is ono and mahi mahi ever tasty.

look at these beauties:)

Rent a bike and go for as many bike rides as you can.  It might be windy but on the big island…You never know who you might run into.  I met this guy who showed me how to ride down beaches that only the locals know about.  You never know you could even get a famous guy to tweet you.

I kicked his arse up the hill

cyclocrossin down the beach

After you ride bikes with Lance, see if you can find some dolphins to swim with.  That is what we did on New Year’s Day, and it was a very cool experience.

swim in with doll fins

And last but not least, watch the people you love have fun.  There is no greater joy in the world than that.


Have fun on your trip Katie and sorry I posted this after your trip…and thank you very much for working with and helping my students as I am certain that at least one of them is going to change the world by becoming one of the most incredible Multi-Media Journalists of all time:)



Posted in Personal on October 20, 2011 by Mister A

Forty three years ago, there were these two beautiful people who were going through a very difficult time in their lives.  Mary and Gerald were 16 and 18 years old and made what they called was a mistake.   They were pregnant and deciding whether or not to keep their future child or give her up for adoption.  Being devout Catholics meant for them that abortion was not an option.  I have talked with them some about this and the decision to give up their child did not come easily.  I think a lot of love and unselfishness went into the decision they made and that is why I believe so much good came from their decision.  The beautiful person they gave up for adoption at that time, was to eventually become my wife, the person in the middle at the top of my blog.  Had they not made the choice they did, I have no idea what my life would be like today.  I do not think I would be a teacher, nor would I have an educational blog.  In fact, in all honesty, I do not believe I would be alive, had I not met the beautiful woman in the lion dress 22 years ago.  The two boys at the top of the screen on either side of my wife would not exist and I have no doubt that my life would be absolutely 100% different if not for the decision those two people made 43 years ago.  I also believe the Children’s Museum of Montana would not be touching as many lives as it does, in fact, it might have already folded.  I know I would never have known so many North Dakotans if it wasn’t for that decision.  I hope I can thank them someday, somehow, and in some way for the decision they made.

I remember hearing a story a wise teacher use to tell.  It was about how a butterfly flapping its wings in the Indian Ocean could put events into action that would eventually cause a massive hurricane in the Pacific ocean.  I think Mary and Gerald’s story is an excellent example of what that wise teacher meant when he told the story of the butterfly flapping its wings.  I cannot even imagine the impacts tiny things I say or do with my students or other people in my life might have for very large numbers of people I will never ever meet.  I am going to make more of an effort to make those tiny things have a positive impact.


Posted in Connectivism, Personal on September 11, 2011 by Mister A

Battle Buddy

I had my 79th birthday yesterday.  My wife and oldest son were out of town so I thought it might be a bit of a boring birthday, but it ended up being a pretty good day.  Whenever I was near my iphone, ipad, or computer, I received emails, facebook updates, and text messages from people who I am mostly fond of, wishing me a happy birthday, and wondering how I was doing.  People who I know for a variety of different reasons who have touched my life at some time in the history of my life actually knew it was my birthday.  Even my brother, Mike, who I hadn’t talked to in a long time, sent me a message.  I ended up calling him and we had a terrific talk.  I connected to a guy I went to basic training with nineteen years ago, who was the biggest thing I remember about that time in my life.  We became close friends during that short time and somehow lost touch.  It was so cool to see his facebook and what he was up to.  It was kind of nice to know they and others were thinking about me on what was my favorite day of the year when I was younger.

Two years ago, because people were just figuring out facebook, or the birthday feature wasn’t as pushy as it is now, no one would have even known it was my birthday, which was fine with me and I could celebrate my birthday alone and in peace. I have always been a bit of an isolator, I just have never been very good at connecting to people, so I thought.  I think it is the small bit of Aspergerishness I believe I possess that made (makes) connecting to others so difficult for me.  I think social media has helped changed that for me, is helping change that for me.  Before I went to bed, I went through my list of birthday wishes, and responded to each, stopping and reminiscing about how they had touched my life or how I had touched theirs.  It made me feel good inside.

Social media to me, is more than just facebook.  It is Jokaydiagrid, WoW, Minecraft, and Second life.  It is Twitter, Gtalk, and Skype.  It is my blog, Twitter, and Plurk.  (Anal retentive person, I said twitter twice on purpose).  It is my ipad, my computers, and my iphone.  And yes, it is also Facebook.  All these things have helped me be a better connector to people.   These things all allow me to share with others who I am in special and different ways, which is something I have always struggled with.  It has also allowed others to share with me, who they are in special and different ways.  To me, social media is all about connectivism.  I know that there can be some negative aspects to social media, but I believe that  Social media has made me a better person by allowing me to overcome my fear and inability to connect to others.

On a personal note, seeing some of my old friends facebook pages, made me think about how I use to spend time floating down the Missouri river on inner tubes and small rafts.  So that is what my youngest son and I spent a part of the afternoon of my birthday doing, swimming and floating in the Mighty Missouri, right where I use to when I was his age.  We finished the day off with a delicious Howard’s Pizza.


Posted in Personal, Vacation on July 14, 2010 by Mister A

Adam's Picture of our bus

I bought a new Volkswagen Bus today.  I have always wanted one but never really took the risk to buy one.  I ran into a little extra money that has been burning a hole in my bank so I thought it might be time as I have become very good friends with another VEEDUB HOUND.  I was really struggling with the logistics of the whole deal as the van is in Waukegan, IL, just south of Milwaukee.  I was getting shipment bids and trying to figure how I could give a guy a check and get the title signed all at the same time 1300 miles away.  I didn’t want the van to be sitting in a warehouse waiting for the Great Falls, Montana trailer to fill up which I imagine happens about once a year. I really wanted to just fly out and drive it home.  I figured that would solve many of the logistical issues I was facing.

Westfalia Buses are Da Bomb

The reason I wanted a van is to spend time with my family.  I want to take long, slow, road trips with them where we can talk and see things together that none of us have ever seen before.  As I was struggling with how I could get the bus paid for and into my driveway…the thought occurred to me that there probably is no slower road trip than the one from Milwaukee to Great Falls, so I looked on Expedia for one way flights to Milwaukee.  Three tickets were half the cost of having someone else ship the van to me, on their own time frame.  One of the best things about be a teacher and a parent is SUMMERTIME FREEDOM.  My two sons and I will be flying to Milwaukee, WI in a few weeks to pick up our new van and hope to have one of the most memorable adventures of our lives.

On a personal note, I just joined triple AAA auto club.  I understand they offer free towing for broken down VEEDUB buses.  I am so looking forward to making some lasting new memories in our newest family member.

Nineteen Years

Posted in Educational, Personal with tags , , on June 17, 2010 by Mister A

I have a student named Harly who is deathly afraid of speaking in front of her classmates. When those times came, where she had to speak in front of others, I have heard myself provide her (and students like her) with the following advice:

“You know, public speaking is the greatest fear faced by most people. For the majority of people it is even greater than the fear of death. But you know, the only way you will ever get over that fear is by facing it. Take every opportunity you have to speak in front of others and always volunteer to go first. If you do that, eventually that fear will decrease and perhaps it might even disappear completely.”

My wife was in my classroom when I gave Harly that advice on the day of our Dean Groom web conference at North Middle school, where Harly volunteered to present FIRST to teachers she did not even know as well as her classmates in a way that was TOTALLY new to everybody.

As I talked about my fear of presenting two workshops for teachers at a technology conference here in Great Falls, my big-headed wife reminded me of my lecture to Harly, and went on to talk about how I should take my own advice. And I guess I am taking my own advice, because I signed up to teach the workshops. I just hate it when someone else has to point it out…and I really wish the fear went away before I did the presenting.

On a personal note
, On Tuesday, my wife and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary. It is because of conversations like the one I just described that we have as successful of a marriage as we do. We have problems, just like everyone else, but when all is said and done, I consider myself to be about the luckiest man alive when I get to wake up next to my wife, Joanie, each day.

Quest Atlantis, Skype, and My Son

Posted in classroom tools, Educational, Personal with tags , , on February 10, 2010 by Mister A

QA Henny

A vice-principal came into my classroom today.  My students were working on a unit called “Ingolstadt” in a muve called Quest Atlantis.  She watched them for a few minutes and said, “Man, are they ever ENGAGED”.  I have a friend that calls virtual games like this and the activities they contain, “Behaviorist Pedagogy“.  I, on the other hand, prefer labeling them as Experiential learning.  I am not certain which of us is more correct.  Perhaps we are equally correct, but I do know a couple of things for sure.  My students are engaged, learn self-direction, and have fun when they are in Quest Atlantis.  They are learning to interact, communicate, and collaborate with others in an on-line, teacher-monitored, safe environment.  They are investigating Social Commitments and how to treat others respectfully.  All the while being invested in a standards based curriculum.  The more I see kids work with Quest Atlantis, and as I become increasingly efficient at teaching with it, the more I believe that MUVE’s like it definitely hold a very strong place in the future of education.  If you would like to see a video about Quest Atlantis described by its creator, you can click HERE or just watch it below.

Sasha Barab Video


On a personal note, my son is one of my students when I teach school on this side of town.  He was ill today and had to stay home.  The computer in my kitchen has Quest Atlantis and Skype loaded on it.  During my last class of the day, I skyped home and my son was able to attend my class and talk with his classmates as they worked their way through the Ingolstadt mission in Quest Atlantis.  My son, a seventh grader at one of the middles schools where I teach is at an age where I think he does not appreciate me as much as he did when he was younger.  However, I think he liked the fact that I was able to help him come to school on a day he was too sick to make it past our kitchen computer.

Christmas Eve, My PLN, and Blogging from the Ski Hill

Posted in Personal, PLN with tags , , on January 2, 2010 by Mister A

My dad came over for dinner on Christmas Eve and he made the mistake of asking me why my computer kept making strange bird noises. I spent the next 45 minutes explaining what my Personal Learning Network (PLN) was to my mystified (okay, confused) 71-year-old father. I showed him Twitter, Facebook, Plurk, and Second Life. I almost showed him World of Warcraft, but when he told me he was understanding about a tenth of what I was telling him, I came to the conclusion that explaining my exploits with an Australian Death Knight named Vorsprung in the great land of Azeroth might be a bit much for my aging father. My dad has a computer that he never uses but I believe if he attempted to understand and utilize his toy, he would really enjoy it.

Photo Courtesy of

On a personal note, I went skiing twice over the Christmas break and I just can’t ski as hard as I use to. I still think it is a fantastic way to spend time with my wife and two sons. Two or more hours stuck with each other either in the car or on a chair lift provide us with plenty of opportunities for talking and enjoying each other on a totally different level. And if I need to take more breaks because of my old age, the ski lodge just got wireless…SWEET!!!