A nightly spelling bee for Dad

I’m glad Alexander is in the midst of a writing assignment for school, but I honestly feel like I’m having to compete in a nightly spelling bee with all the words I’m being asked to spell now in the evenings.

spelling test
Creative Commons License photo credit: elginwx

It has been abundantly clear to me for several years that Alexander has similar spelling abilities to his mother: Spelling is very challenging for him. I think this stems from him not being as visually oriented in his natural learning style. I am a pretty decent speller, and I think that has a lot to do with my ability to visualize words. Even when he is asking me to spell words for his writing assignment, I have to visualize them in my mind to spell them aloud. I MUCH prefer to write down a word than to spell it out loud. Really, spelling bees are such a DUMB idea, I wish they were not so common in schools. The ability to verbally spell a word upon command is not an important “life skill.” Of course it is important to write well with correct spelling, but being able to do that is very different from being able to succeed at oral spelling exercises.

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Favorite Halloween Photos

We had a great Halloween party at home this evening with neighbors and friends, and enjoyed the lovely cool (but not cold) fall weather which was perfect for evening trick-or-treating. Here are a few of my favorite photos from the evening.

Brother and his flashlight in the yard after trick-or-treating:
Night silhouette

Mom getting our little witch’s hair ready for the night!

Part of our crew of trick-or-treaters!

The jack-o-latern Trista and I made together:
The pumpkin Trista and I made together

Little sister and her friend visiting with grandparents in Texas over Skype early in the evening, before we left for trick-or-treating:
Videoconferencing over skype with grandparents

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Now is the time to invest

I am not a financial expert, but what I do know tells me now is the time to invest in stocks. As panicked people flee the market, opportunities open for others. My stock recommendation today is Chesapeake Energy.

Natural gas power will be a big part of our energy future in the next 20-30 years, before hydrogen power becomes ubiquitous.

Here is an iPhone screen snap of CHP today.

Writing with pictures

I had a great meeting this morning and lunch with Lance Ford, who (if you don’t already know) has the most amazing car in Oklahoma. Lance had me thinking about a lot of possibilities for interactive virtual field trips at the Gaylord-Pickens Museum of the Oklahoma Heritage Association, where I work now. Using media to teach and learn can be extremely engaging. For our both virtual as well as face-to-face museum experiences, however, I want to strive to facilitate truly “engaging” rather than merely “enthralling” learning experiences. To that end, orienting people to think about capturing, creating and sharing their own stories and stories of people they know is very important for us.

As a visual person, I find it very powerful to experience a presentation which uses images well. In blogging, it is very important to utilize and integrate photos in posts. Because of this, I was delighted to learn about the free Photo Dropper plug-in for WordPress today. I learned about this from Michael Chalk’s post “Struggle with wordpress“, and got the link to Michael’s blog originally from a comment he left on my primary blog. Shazam! With just a few clicks, now a well-formatted and properly attributed legal photo can be inserted into our blog posts here on Learning Signs!!

Creative Commons License photo credit: TooFarNorth

This plug-in provides a compelling reason to compose in the WordPress dashboard. To insert an image like the one I have inserted above, you simply click the editing icon in the upper right corner of the post composition window, enter your search keyword(s), and select the image you want to import: S, M or L. The image is sized correctly and includes CC credits. WOW.

I compose almost all my blog posts now with the software program MarsEdit. I wish MarsEdit would integrate this PhotoDropper functionality, to connect easily to Flickr Creative Commons images and insert them with a couple clicks. I’m going to teach my kids how to use PhotoDropper to insert images into their blog posts. Now it should be much easier and straightforward for them to write with pictures!

Current Affairs Books

We are having a delightful Saturday. No appointments or birthday parties, just a day to roam and loaf. I am writing this on my iPhone from a Barnes and Noble bookstore.
We are here because we love to look at books, and because I have a birthday gift card to use.

Current affairs books are always my favorites. I saw at least five books today I would like to own and read but am not getting today. The reality is that I already have started several books at home that I need to finish. I need to have a job which permits me to read uninterrupted for several hours per day. I need to be a professor.

Here are the new books I settled on for today.

National Meet Your Neighbors Night

I don’t know if this was the official day, but the evening of Augsut 5, 2008, was “Meet Your Neighbors Night” in our neighborhood. A tent, some white Christmas lights, a bunch of lawn chairs and some cookies made for a good opportunity to meet neighbors and get acquainted.

National Meet Your Neighbors Night

I brought over a bowl of fresh cherries and they went fast! This was a really great idea and I’m glad we have some neighbors who took the initiative to get this organized. Evidently they do it each year. I wish we did this more often!

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Our golden retriever has been shaved!

We have two golden retrievers in our household, and our oldest (Bailey) is 12 years old. Bailey usually has some skin allergy trouble in the summertime, and this year is no exception. Especially with the hot weather we’ve been having in Oklahoma, this summer has been tough on Bailey. She developed some type of skin rash on her chest which required her to go on a temporary steroid, but our Vet also recommended that we have her hair shaved off. I’ve seen other goldens in the summer who get shaved, but have heard two different things about this: Some people say it’s bad and you should let dogs keep their coats because it helps them regulate their temperature naturally, others say it is better to shave off their coats in the summertime to help them stay cool. In Bailey’s case, she is a house dog and doesn’t spend much time outside, but evidently part of the problem this summer as been when she has gotten wet (which I don’t think is too often) her coat has been so thick she hasn’t been able to completely dry out– and this has given her further skin problems in addition to her apparent allergy to grass.

So, here is a photo of Bailey I snapped with my iPhone this morning before I took her to the Vet for her shave:

Before the shave

This is Bailey just a few minutes ago, post-shave:

After the shave

She looks so different! Hopefully this will help her FEEL better. It certainly is going to cut WAY down on the dog hair in our house!

I wish Bailey could talk to narrate a “Getting a New Haircut” VoiceThread digital story like Rachel did a couple of years ago. 🙂

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Podcast03: Reflections on Los Alamos and the Development of the Atomic Bomb

This podcast was recorded on Thursday, June 5th, 2008, in Los Alamos, New Mexico at the Bradbury Science Museum. In this podcast, Wesley Fryer reflects on the role Los Alamos played in the ending of World War II in the Pacific theater of combat and inauguration/start of the atomic/nuclear age.

Show Notes:

  1. Bradbury Science Museum – Los Alamos
  2. Los Alamos National Laboratory
  3. The Manhattan Project (WikiPedia)
  4. Podcast214: Surrender of the Japanese to the United States Aboard the USS Missouri (a retelling in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii)
  5. Photos of and aboard the USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (December 2007)
  6. The Sadako Story
  7. “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” (Eleanor Coerr)
  8. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (Japan)
  9. Valles Caldera National Preserve
  10. Jemez Springs, New Mexico

Welcome to our family learning blog!

We have created this family learning blog to provide a space to share many of the things about which we are learning and thinking. Since our local public school does not currently permit student blogging of any kind, and we want to demonstrate the positive potential of blogging to improve student reading and writing skills, creating a family learning blog makes sense. If we are practicing our reading and writing on a daily basis, research as well as common sense says that we are going to improve our skills! Plus, this is a great way to share our ideas and interact with our family and friends. Our kids need the traditional as well as digital literacy skills which can be developed through frequent blog reading and writing TODAY. We’re not waiting for our neighborhood school to change its policy on student blogging: We’re starting NOW.Please come back and visit our blog often. Feel free leave us positive and helpful comments! The images from our homepage header image are from my Signs 2007 Flickr set.Apple Youth Music Workshop in Progress

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