This is my first written book review. I picked up this novel, Acoma: A Novel of Conquest, by Lana M. Harrigan, at the library because I am interested in the Acoma history. I have visited there twice, and I have historical ties to the area. Plus I love historical fiction as a genre. This is the author's first novel and it shows. Her writing starts off strong, but gets lazy towards the end of the book. I am not a fan of romance novels, and this felt far more like a romance novel than historical fiction. I thought "Novel of Conquest" would mean conquest of the land; I didn't interpet the title to mean sexual conquest. However I must give Mrs. Harrigan credit for her vivid descriptions of the Acoma mesa (for the very little time she spends there.) The author must hate the catholic church because she paints a horrible and abusive profile of their presence in Nuevo Mexico. The heroine has a heart for Christianity and God, but few others "religious" characters in the book are sympathetic at all. At the end she leaves the reader feeling that all sins, while forgiven by God (maybe) will come back to haunt you, even to the point of death. Hmm. Unfortuantely I cannot recommend this novel to anyone.
Last night my mom gave me an early Father's Day gift. I had mentioned awhile back how I wish I could find a bible with a wide margin for taking notes. I write notes all over all of my books. It's a habit I started in college and have found very useful. Teachers, I know it's a sin to many but for me its a highly effective way of helping me understand and process what I am reading, whether its scripture, classwork material, or just observations in a novel I am reading for fun.
Mom found an ESV (English Standard Version) Bible for Life wide margin reference edition bible published by Crossways Bibles, a ministry of Good News publishers, from Wheaton, Illinois (978-1-58134-823-1) at our one of our local Christian book stores. Very cool. I have a Teacher's Edition Holman Christian Standard Bible that I carry with me just about everywhere I go. The new one is bigger and heavier, so it will be my daily reader, and Sunday tote to service.
Everyone needs to be good at something, to experience what it is to excel at anything, to understand the time, energy, and commitment required to achieve a mastery level. It doesn't matter what the thing is. It could be writing, playing an instrument, throwing free throws, or even, yes, playing video games.
No one gets "good" at anything unless they spend time (lots of time) doing that thing. There are two byproducts of their time investment. 1) they get better at the thing they are doing which makes them feel good and brings them positive attention; and 2) they learn what is necessary for mastery.
The lesson gained from learning what is necessary for mastery can be applied to anything and everything else in life. For me to learn how to make 9 out of 10 free throw shots, I must make a personal investment. The return on this investment is an experience that I can then reference when approaching other challenges in life.
Having experienced some success in the past, I know what mastery feels like and I have a pretty good idea of how to get there. Sure each challenge is different; it's not the way we overcome the challenge, but the attitude and the experience we bring to meet the challenge head-on.
How much time do you spend working towards mastery? We may never reach "master class" in what we focus on, but that's not the point. It's making the commitment, and following through; then applying those experiences to other areas of our lives that is the key to success.
Just home from graduation. What a great night. I love to watch the graduates walk up to receive their diploma (holder). The expression on their faces is priceless. Then the hugs and the tears after are always some of my most memorable moments. Congratulations Class of 2009!
I'm writing the night before (but publishing the day of) because I am getting up at 4am to drive my wife, Pamela, to the airport. She is spending the weekend with her sister in Colorado. I'll be chasing around the 5 little Bibos all weekend long, or rather, they will be chasing after me.
After months of planning, prep, instruction, and projects, I gave my first certification exam in Final Cut Pro yesterday. The certification exam is optional, and half of the students enrolled (10) opted to take the test. The test is taken online. There are multiple choice, select all that apply, and find this item in the diagram (screen shot) questions. Test takers are given 90 minutes to complete all 70 questions. The pass score is 80%. I had one student score above 80% (81%). The average score was 56%. Epic fail?
I predicted the student who passed would pass before I ever began to teach him the curriculum. He came in with prior knowledge and experience using the application at home. The next highest score was 76% from a student who is enrolled in two of my classes and serves as my TA in a third. However, another student who spends the same amount of time in my classroom earned the lowest score 36%.
I can reflect on these numbers in two ways. First, most students do not have access to Final Cut Pro outside of my classroom; Final Cut Pro is very expensive to purchase and requires a Macintosh computer. While I gave the students plenty of assignments to complete, and we worked through all of the projects in the text book, mastery of the application requires many additional hours invested in using it to edit.
Second, this was my first time teaching the application, using the text, and proctoring the exam. Past experience dictates that next time I will do a better job of teaching the material and insuring that the students spend even more time using the software. I now have some data to look at and use to help guide my presentation of the material to a new group of students in the fall.
Do I feel like a failure because of these scores? Of course not. Teaching is a process where perfection is the goal but rarely the outcome. The most effective teacher is the one who is at the same time leading and learning right alongside his or her students. Every student who took the course learned from their experience regardless of the percentage of questions answered correctly on the exam. My goal is to get two students above 80% next time and I am confident that they will.
These are lyrics from a brand new song. Read all the way down to the bottom to find out who the author is. (You may be surprised.) --- I'm a ticking time bomb Waiting to blow my top No one would ever know Not until I blew up
No one would believe it He was such a normal guy Shake their heads and wonder why
If Martians fell from the sky What would that do to god? Would we put the weapons down Or aim it up at the sky
No one would believe it Except the f***ing nut jobs They laugh and cry we told you so
Baby when I get home I want to believe in Jesus Hammer in the final nail Help me pick up the pieces
When everything starts to fall So fast that it terrifies you When will you hit the wall? Are you gonna learn to fly?
No one would believe it Except for all the people Watching as you fly away
Baby when I get home I want to pick up the pieces Hammer in the final nail And lean me up against Jesus
Baby when I get home I want to believe in Jesus You can Hammer in the final nail But help me pick up the pieces
Baby when I get home Help me pick up the pieces You can hammer in the final nail I wanna believe in Jesus
Final exams "officially" begin today. However, since our seniors need to have grades calculated a day early, we've been on block schedule for the last two days giving final in the final block of the day. Today we go to the familiar two 2:15 long final periods with a 20 minute break in between, and release at 12:20. (Sigh of relief).
Today is also the day I buy lunch for my advanced class "Digital Dogz" seniors. I have 18 graduating this year, some of whom I have taught every single day of their high school career. It's been my tradition to buy pizza on this day following our "final" period together. I always buy really good pizza, not crappy cheap delivery. But I have to qualify that by explaining that the owner of the "gourmet" pizza shop in town also happens to be my landlord at the moment and always gives me a killer deal. I will spend about three hours with these 18 kids today, and then say goodbye.
I really hate goodbyes. I remember being with my grandmother at the airport when she said goodbye to her sister after a long visit. I saw my grandmother cry for the first and only time ever. Some of you (2) may have read the essay I wrote for The Apple that explained how I laughed at my 4th grade teacher for crying when he said goodbye to us on the last day of school. Poor judgment on my young part. I invest a major portion of my day, and my life, to these young people who then go out into the big-wide-world and I never hear from again.
Facebook helps me keep in touch, or at least monitor some of their good news. And some of my students come back to visit me often. One of my former students is even teaching two of my own children Tae Kwon Do. Two others are currently coaches on campus. Two are at USC and are going to be seniors next year. One of them is at Lucas Arts on an internship this summer. I've sent students to Standford, Yale, and a long list of other great colleges. Many end up in careers related to what I taught them in high school, so I must be doing something right.
Finals are about closure and promotion. Without them we could not justifiably pass our student up to the next rung of their latter, the next plateau of their lives, their next windmill to conquer. If we don't let the current ones move on, then we'll never get a new group to teach, because we can only teach so many at one time. Our students outgrow us and hopefully absorb all that we have to offer. My seniors this year are a hardworking and creative bunch. I will miss them.
My mother's story, and the event of her 67th birthday, is amazing. Less than a year after my dad passed away from Colon Cancer in 1999, Mom was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, or plasma cell cancer. When she was diagnosed her back was already in such bad shape that she required a metal rod to be implanted in order to stand upright. I was with her when the doctor (Dad's doctor) told her she had 12 to 18 months to live. Having just survived my father's cancer journey (he lived 10 weeks beyond his diagnosis), Mom was devastated, again. But instead of giving up, she gave it to God. The pastors of our church came and laid hands in prayer, she moved nearby a local, and very famous, hospital whose cancer treatments would be aggressive, and followed every instruction her Oncologist gave her. Although Mom was concerned about her future, she had the confidence of knowing that she was saved, and that the worst thing that could happen was that she got to meet Jesus face-to-face. If you did not know that my mom had a terminal illness, you wouldn't know it from seeing her on her birthday. Happy birthday Mom, I wish you many, many more.
This would be an AMAZING work of God if it happens. This house is currently owned by a good friend of mine and it is for (short) sale. We were planning on placing an offer on it next month when our house goes into "active" escrow. But we are going to write one up today because someone else has placed an offer on it and he needs to take an offer to the bank Monday for approval.
This house is next door to another very good friend, and our best family friends in town. It has 5 bedrooms, a pool, and is located in a very desirable area that I normally could never afford to live in. I have secretly thought about buying this house for many, many years, even before we moved back up to the mountains. The owners raised their family is this house, but only have one child left at home. It's a great family home and would be a fantastic blessing to my life and my family. Please pray for our success.
I was just talking with a graduating student discussing her plans for the Fall. She is concerned about pursuing a course of education that does not allow here "something to fall back on." I explained that the most important thing that she can do is to pursue a course of study that she is passionate about and enjoys; the rest will fall in line.
The worst advice my father ever gave me was to have "something to fall back on." I wanted to be an actor/director. Crazy, I know, and he was right to be cautious. But by telling me to be cautious I doubted my goal and never gave it 100% of my effort. So guess what? I'm not an actor, or director. Am I sorry about that? No. I found the direction of my life, and I LOVE teaching. But there is still that feeling of unfinished business in the back of my mind, and in my heart.
We need to be very careful about how we communicate to our students and children. Proverbs 22:6 states "Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it." Each of us was made specifically and with a purpose. The parent or teacher does not decide the purpose and has no business doing anything but guiding the child along their path, encouraging them all the way.
Telling a young person that they need "something to fall back on" communicates a lack of confidence in the child's chosen path and purpose. Not a good thing. We, the adults, need to be supportive and respectful of the seed planted in the heart of the child and do all that we can to carefully tend to the needs of the budding inspiration within.
I have taught many, many students. Some I have gotten closer to, others not so much. A few years back I had a student tell me in confidence that she was suffering a brain tumor and that she would be going directly into surgery the day after graduation. She was scared but confident that the doctors would be successful in removing the tumor.
The day after her high school graduation she went into surgery, and then spent the next 6 months in hospital rehabilitation. Actually it took the entire next school year before she was herself again. But she recovered well suffering only some hearing loss. She went to university the next year and began the process of becoming a teacher.
Then the tumor came back. The doctors were not able to get all of the mass, and it regrew. This past week she went back for a second major surgery. I just read her mom's email and the news is excellent. This time the doctors were able to not only remove the newer tumor, but cut off it's blood supply as well. They are all very positive.
The day we spoke of the impending first surgery I tried to offer wise advice, but I had none. I told her that I knew God would use this experience for his glory, and to trust Him. I'm sure that when the brain tumor girl got the news of the second tumor she was confused. Now we have to wait and see again how His glory is revealed; it will be.
God created all things, including us, and then gave us dominion over them. Adam and Eve had the Garden of Eden all to themselves to enjoy while God went for a pleasant stroll. Kinda like when I take my kids to the park and tell them to go crazy. I enjoy watching them on the slides, the swings, and playing in the sand. I even get to play along. It's all good. But just as I give my children boundaries to play on any playground equipment except the stuff that is too dangerous and might hurt them if they fall, Adam and Eve were given instructions to not eat from the two forbidden trees, one of which of course they did, and fell. Sometimes my children trip at the park, skin their knees, and cry in pain. Of course I come over to comfort them, but I can't take the pain away, and I wouldn't want to. The pain from making a mistake is a reminder that can be used as knowledge of what not to do so they do not make that misstep again. My children learn, and grow from their mistakes, as did Adam and Eve, as do we all. And God watches it all in His benevolent Glory.
What gets me is the mistakes I make over and over and over again. I am so hard hard-headed and hard-hearted. Thank God for Jesus and for Grace.
I originally found New Mexico Pinon coffee at Trader Joe's. Now I just order it online direct from the manufacturer. This coffee is amazing,far better than Starbucks or any of the other expensive brews out there. In the spring of 2008 we vacationed in New Mexico and I drove by the shop. It's a tiny little business in an industrial center.
I don't indulge myself in many things, but good coffee is worth the investment.
Book three on my summer list (and I still have 9 days of school left) is Founding Brothers, The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis. His Excellency was awesome. Ellis is so enthusiastic about the subjects he writes about that you can't helped by get sucked in. I wish I could take one of his history classes.
While I'm still not sure why I'm so curious about the founders of our country, I am impressed that they seemed to know that they were making history, and they embraced their roles. It's inspirational as I try to figure out my role as a teacher, a parent, and a husband. While I don't expect to make the impact these men made, what will my impact be?