Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Education & #BlackLivesMatter

When I got into my car today, my first thought was, "Wow, it has to be 140 in here!"  The outside temperature, while not probably quite as hot, showed this:

My second thought turned to the topic on the radio.  I had been listening to baseball yesterday when I got home, so the station was on Mad Dog Radio, with the host in the middle of interviewing Charles Barkley.  Like him, hate him, roll your eyes at him, whatever your opinion of him, he is always interesting to listen to because he always speaks his mind and does not care what anybody thinks.  While I personally tend to find him outrageous most of the time, I was intrigued by the conversation and left the interview on as I left the house to run my errands.

The topic of discussion was Michael Jordan's recent comments regarding police brutality, Black Lives Matter, and the current state of race relations in America.  I have some passing knowledge that Jordan said some things that may have ruffled some feathers, but he also received a great deal of support for his remarks.  Frankly, since I did not hear, see, or read what was said, I cannot issue an opinion.  The main focus of the conversation was whether or not Barkley supported Jordan, the BLM movement, the media's coverage of BLM and the perception of police during this tense time.  What Barkley had to say really got my gears turning as to how this is a perfect opportunity to address the educational implications of BLM and how American society is flawed in many ways regarding race relations.

Since I do not have a transcript, I will do my best to summarize Barkley's words.  He stated that there is an abundance of violence towards blacks in this nation and racism that goes with it and many other aspects of society (I agree).  He stated that it's probably not as bad as what the media says it is (can't agree or disagree but I do have opinions about how the media skews things to gain a following, but regardless, statistics do not lie about the number of, especially young black men, in prison, getting stopped on the street, etc.).  He referred to pro athletes stepping up to voice their concerns with race relations in the country, but how it should not be their job to do so.  This is where the conversation got really interesting.

Charles Barkley stated that he appreciated what pro athletes were saying, but what were they REALLY doing?  Pro athletes are role models, but for too many African American kids, these are the only role models of their race that they see.  Naturally, many black kids gravitate towards sports and/or entertainment because they do not see role models that are doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc.  Barkley's solution:  pro athletes need to be better roles models for EDUCATION by providing not just words, but actions, dollars, time, etc. to their communities to better opportunities for African American kids.  He summed it up by saying that if education improves, then communities will improve.

If you would like to hear the full interview, please click here.

I don't often agree with Charles Barkley because he can be a bit controversial, in my opinion.  However, he hit the nail on the head here.  I must make it clear that I cannot identify with him, other pro athletes, black friends, colleagues, and family (my roommate from college, Brandon, is family to me, as well as his entire family).  However, I have worked in schools for 11 years in "minority majority", low income neighborhoods and have seen a lot of what many families must deal with on a daily basis (not just black families, but Hispanic, Asian, and white families).  What I have gleaned from my experience is that there is a cycle of poverty, crime, and other problems that can be remedied with education.  It is our job as educators to provide that education to these children that are disadvantaged.  It is also our job to work with our families, communities, school districts, etc. to provide a better future for all children.  Without our commitment, the cycle of poverty will continue.

Serious change needs to happen in regards to many aspects of our nation.  It starts with us.  Without the teachers, administrators, support staff, families, and communities working together for the common good, that change is going to struggle getting off the launch pad.

Until next time...

Thursday, July 14, 2016

21st Century Learning Conference by @CUENV

It is already that time of the year again, the beginning of the new school year.  While many of us do not want to think about that just yet, most of us will be back in the next month or so.  Now is the perfect time to start thinking about professional development for the coming school year.  As vice president of CUE-NV (Computer Using Educators of Nevada), it is my privilege to announce details of our fall state conference.  

 21st Century Learning Conference sponsored by CUE-NV

Friday, September 30, 2016 (5 PM - 9 PM, registration at 4 PM) and 
Saturday, October 1 (7:30 AM  - 4:30 PM)

East Career & Technical Academy
6705 Vegas Valley Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89142

From now until August 31st, you can register for the conference for $89.  The price of registration includes each of the following:  
  • Admission to the conference
  • One year membership to CUE (there are numerous other affiliates outside of Nevada)
  • Dozens of sessions on various educational technology, pedagogy, etc. 
  • An opening keynote speaker on Friday evening and a closing keynote speaker on Saturday afternoon
  • Breakfast and lunch on Saturday
  • Entry into a raffle for prizes, including a free registration for the CUE National Conference in Palm Springs in March 2017! 

To register for the conference, click here, or if the link does not work, copy and paste the following into your browser:

Maybe you are a Google guru, a wizard with iPad apps, a god(dess) of blogging or podcasting, whatever it may be.  Perhaps you would like to share your expertise on various educational technology.  We are accepting applications for presentations for the conference as well.  If you are accepted as a presenter, you will receive a free registration for the conference, allowing you to attend both days of the conference and take advantage of everything the conference has to offer.  If you are interested in presenting at the conference, please click here for the form, or copy and paste the following into your browser:

To take it even further, maybe you work for an educational technology company.  Perhaps you would like to peddle your wares, be it an amazing new piece of hardware, an amazing new LMS or application, or protective coverings for hardware since we all know that we are going to drop the technology and destroy it without that covering.  If you are interested in a vendor booth at the conference, we have you covered.  You will receive a free registration to the conference and if you are interested, you may also present by filling out the form above.  For more information on vendor registration, please click here, or copy and paste the following into your browser:  

I hope you can make some time in your busy schedule to attend in some way, whether as a vendor, a presenter, or simply an educator wanting to learn more and perfect your craft.  If you have any questions, please feel free to tweet me (@AndersonEdTech), email me ( or the conference email,, or comment on this post.  

Until next time... 

Sunday, July 10, 2016


Whenever I am driving, working out, or just have some general downtime, I enjoy listening to music.  iTunes on my phone has basically every album I have ever purchased uploaded, with nearly 80 GB of music at the touch of my finger.  While I have been buying more of my music on iTunes, I still purchase physical CDs here and there and upload them onto my iTunes account.  However, as I get older, I am getting that whole old man "get off my lawn" attitude, the same old man that I knew as a kid/teenager that said "back in my day, music was actually music, not that crap you call music today" view.  Country and rap left me long ago (I still listen to 90s and prior country and rap), but even the rock and metal that I mostly listen to is starting to turn on me.  It all sounds the same, autotuned, digitally programmed, and uninspired.  The music that I am buying isn't new artists, it is the same artists I have been listening to for years, just new material that they are producing.  Because of this, I am very happy that, albeit VERY TARDY to the party, I have discovered some amazing podcasts in recent months.

I knew of podcasts years ago.  For numerous reasons, I never got into podcasts.  First, I was still into buying and listening to as much new music as I could.  At one point, I was buying upwards of, on average, three new albums a week.  Secondly, under the impression the podcasts were a daily thing, I didn't think I had the time to listen to podcasts.  However, after sitting in on a podcasting session presented by Brian Briggs and Ryan O'Donnell at CUE in Palm Springs back in March, my perception of podcasts changed overnight.

There are thousands of podcasts available (I subscribe to them through iTunes, but they are also available through Google Play Music, YouTube, and other platforms). If there is a topic that you want to hear on a podcast, you are going to be able to find it.  News, politics, sports, comedy, education, beer, the possibilities are endless!  Podcasts also vary in the length of time.  Some the I have come across are as little as under 10 minutes per episode, some are as long as two hours.  It really depends on what kind of podcast you are looking for and what kind of time that you have on your hands.

Over the past few months, I have subscribed to several podcasts.  Now when I am driving, I make sure that I have the latest episodes downloaded for the ride.  With my longer commute to work this year (40 minutes versus the five minutes that it took me the past 6 years), I will have the opportunity to listen to podcasts regularly.  I still haven't used a podcast during a workout, I still need music to motivate me during a run or weightlifting session.  Here are a few of my favorite podcasts, many of which are education-related, but some are simply podcasts that spark interests of mine outside of education:

1.  Check This Out with Brian & Ryan:  "A podcast by educators, for educators," Brian and Ryan (two dudes that I consider professional friends) present to you the latest and greatest on various educational technology with their quirky senses of humor (which is the best part of the show, by the way).  Follow Brian (@bribriggs), Ryan (@creativeedtech) and the podcast (@checkthisoutBR) on Twitter

2.  The Nerdist:  Chris Hardwick (comedian, host of numerous shows like Talking Dead, @Midnight, Talking Saul, but got his start as the host of Singled Out on MTV back in the day) hosts this comedy podcast with special guest celebrities.  This one is a touch vulgar at times, so be careful around the kids and your worksite.

3.  Coach's Corner - Edtech, Academic Coaching, and Beyond:  Ben Cogswell (@cogswell_ben) hosts a variety of edtech gurus, offering up advice on various educational technology on how to better work as a technology coach with teachers.  Episodes are short and sweet and also available as a vlog on YouTube.

4.  Eagle Nation Podcast:  Hosted by Team RWB (Team Red, White, & Blue, a national organization for veterans and civilians to bring people together through physical and social activity), this podcasts has inspiring guests from (mostly) the military or former military that addresses topics such as leadership, physical fitness, and community service.  Check out  for more information on the organization, to join your local chapter, and to help make a difference in veterans' lives.  Also, follow @TeamRWB on Twitter.

5.  Taggart & Torrens:  I discovered this podcast completely by accident.  One of my favorite bands is a Canadian alternative rock band called Our Lady Peace.  Their drummer, Jeremy Taggart, left the band a few years ago to pursue other ambitions.  A few weeks ago, I was doing a search to see what he was up to these days, if he had any side projects, etc.  and stumbled upon this gem of a podcast.  Again, this one is a touch vulgar at times, but an absolute riot.  Taggart and his partner, Jonathan Torrens, a Canadian actor, address all sorts of topics from their daily lives, poke some fun at their home country of Canada, and play ridiculous games like Lake or Fake, What's He Driving, and others.  You have to listen to get what I'm talking about.  You won't be disappointed if you love dumb humor and awesome Canadian accents and slang terms.  Give it a listen BAHD!  Follow Jeremy Taggart (@Taggart7), Jonathan Torrens (@TorrensJonathan), and the podcast (@TAGGARTnTORRENS) on Twitter.

Some of the others that I listen to are the TED Radio Hour, TED Talks Education, The Hockey News, and the Detroit Tigers Podcast.  I have been introduced to some others, I just haven't had the chance to give them a listen just yet.

What are some of your favorite podcasts?  Respond in the comments with one education blog and one other blog, tweet me @AndersonEdTech, or email your favorites to

Until next time...

Summer Vacation

As an educator, technology is a big part of my life (if you have ever read any of my posts or followed anything I have ever posted to Twitter, this should not come as a surprise).  What may be surprising is that as "addicted" to technology that I am, I love to get away from it for extended periods of time.  For the past month, my access to Internet connections, and quite honestly, my desire to get online, has been severely compromised, and I am 100% fine with that.  Summer vacation for a teacher is supposed to be relaxing, a time to recharge, but also a time evaluate the past year and to learn some new things in preparation for next year.  So far, my summer has been both, but definitely more on the side of relaxation.

As I write this, I am still on vacation.  I haven't seen my house in over a month.  I have been living out of a suitcase; I have been doing laundry either at a friend or family member's place along the way or at a campground laundromat.  The camper has been working out nicely thus far; a pop-up is a perfect size for a family of four that still wants it to be camping, not like many that are essentially a hotel room on wheels.

So I have been gone a month, where have I been?  As of this writing, my family and I have put nearly 7,000 miles on the vehicle, all while towing the camper (doesn't that cost a lot in gas? Not as much as I thought, I am still averaging 19 mpg pulling the trailer, very pleasant surprise!).  We started out in Las Vegas on June 9th.  The goal was to avoid driving more than 8 hours in a day with the kids.  More driving than that would be terrible for a 4-year-old and a 14-month-old.  We also agreed that numerous stops each day would be best.  But as a planner, I also wanted to be sure we had campsites each night, so we planned ahead of time where we wanted to get to so we could book campsites.  Some nights along the way would not be in the camper, as we have family in many places throughout the nation.  The following is a breakdown of where we went, how long we stayed, etc.:

Grand Junction, CO (1 night): quick stay at my wife's cousins' house after about 7 hours of driving

Golden, CO (1 night): a short jaunt to outside of Denver so we could see an old college friend that we hadn't seen in a long time

Independence, MO (2 nights):  the most terrible day of driving of the entire trip.  Driving straight through from Denver to Kansas City is over hours on a good day, which turned into nearly 13 with stops.  However, there isn't much to stop for in Kansas (if you are from KS, I am not knocking your state, but there are times that I wonder if the state was going to end) and we wanted to get to MO to see some family.  We stayed two days so we could spend some extra time with them.

Des Moines, IA (1 night): Drove about 3 hours so we could see one of my college roommates and camp out with her.  She took us to the Iowa Capitol Building, quite a beautiful place, and a craft beer bar & grill called El Bait Shop (I needed a week at that place to try different beers).

Green Bay, WI (1 night):  The plan for months was to meet up with a college teammate of mine and his family to camp for a long weekend.  We drove to Green Bay and stayed a night with his family to prepare for the weekend.

Iron Mountain, MI (4 nights):  Mary's hometown.  We camped all four nights, three of which were with my teammate Marshall and his family.  We were able to visit with Mary's family and several of our friends from college while in town.  I took my daughter Elsa fishing for the first time, but she wasn't able to hook anything.  I caught a beautiful smallmouth while tossing a sinking Rapala near a dam on the Menominee River.  My son Reed was with me for that one and since he is all boy, he oohed and ahhed at the fish and poked at it.  The kids got to experience their first real camping with campfires, s'mores, bug spray, and limited access to showers and a long walk to the bathrooms.  They also got to meet some of their family that they had never met before and Mary and I got to see some that we hadn't seen since our wedding 8 years ago.

Marquette, MI (1 night):  Home of Northern Michigan University, the city where I lived for 5 years while going to school and playing football, and where I met my wife.  We were amazed at how much the city and campus had changed in five years since we had last been there.  We experienced two of our favorite restaurants from our time in college, checked out the two new breweries in town, and took our kids to see campus and Presque Isle Park, showing my four-year-old Black Rocks, where we used to jump off the cliffs into the frigid waters of Lake Superior.

Alpena, MI (3 nights):  My hometown.  Along the way, we stopped in St. Ignace, MI to climb Castle Rock, an amazing viewpoint that overlooks the Straits of Mackinac and the surrounding area, and Cheboygan, MI, where we visited an old friend from college and had dinner with him.  In Alpena, we stayed with my 92-year-old Grandpa.  He had never met our son and he was pretty excited to hang out with both kids.  We got to see many of my old friends and family that I hadn't seen in years and we took the kids to visit my grandmother and brother at the cemetery (can't believe that Grandma has been gone for 14 years and my brother for 6 years; they are buried next to each other, with the agreement from my Grandpa that Cody knows he is moving over a bit when he is ready, my Grandpa is hilarious!).

Detroit, MI (3 nights):  We can't go to Michigan and not catch one of our favorite teams while we are there.  We caught two Tigers games, saw some family and friends (one of which I hadn't seen in 14 years), my brother from another mother Brandon and his wife, my sister from another mister Lorrin, and went to The Henry Ford in Dearborn (if you have the chance to see this place, plan on a few days rather than a few hours, I got to see maybe 20% of the grounds, and it was AMAZING).

Roscoe, IL (1 night):  Essentially, this was a stop after about 6 hours of driving.  It was planned because another teammate of mine and his wife, good friends of my wife and I for a long time, live there.  Both are educators, with Mike an elementary principal and Heather a PE teacher.  We camped at Rock Cut State Park, met their kids for the first time, and caught up like it was old times.

Sioux Falls, SD (1 night):  Again, another night after 7 hours of driving.  We stayed at Yogi Bear Jellystone Park, giving the kids the opportunity to do some fun stuff like swim while we were there for the limited time.  It was more of a night of rest and laundry before the fun of the next three days...

Custer, SD (3 nights):  Quite possibly my favorite part of the trip.  Custer is in the middle of the Black Hills, a few miles from some of the most amazing places in the nation, such as Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Jewel Cave, Wind Cave, Custer State Park, and many others.  The weather wasn't the greatest when we were there, but it didn't stop us from seeing all of the marvels of the Black Hills and hear some amazing stories from a park ranger named Darrell Red Cloud.  We hiked along the base of Mount Rushmore, watched the laser light show at Crazy Horse, saw tons of wildlife in Custer State Park, experienced Deadwood (which I was disappointed with, but maybe I was unfairly comparing it to Virginia City, NV, which I find more appealing because it is not nearly as modernized as Deadwood), visited Firehouse Brewing Company in Rapid City (Mary and I went there on our drive to Michigan in the days leading up to our wedding 8 years prior, made for a bit of reminiscing while we were there), and, completely randomly, ran into some friends of ours from Las Vegas at Mount Rushmore when we returned to see the lighting ceremony.

Wendover, UT (1 night):  Originally, the plan was to drive into Wyoming a few hours, then to Nevada, before getting to my parents' place in Northern California.  However, my cousins that work as rangers in Yosemite National Park were also at my parents and wanted to see us.  We made the decision to cut down the driving to two days from three to get there to see my cousins.  It was going to be 20 hours of driving (without stops) over two days, with two young kids.  While both of my kids were great over about 14 hours on Saturday from Custer to Wendover, I certainly do not recommend it at all.  I was exhausted and fell asleep within minutes, only to be woken up a couple of hours later when some late night revelers mistakenly thought that our hotel room was theirs and woke me up trying to get their key to work in our door.  On Sunday, we finally got to my parents' place after 8 hours of driving across Northern Nevada and Northern California.

We have about a week of vacation left.  We will spend a few more days at my parents before we head to Reno for a few days.  There, we will take the train from Carson City to Virginia City for a day, head up to Lake Tahoe for a day, and who knows what else.  We will finally make it home on July 17th.  On July 18th, I will begin my summer of learning and preparation for this coming school year.  My new position of technology coordinator is going to require some extra work going into the school year, work that will begin with a meeting with my new principal right after I get back, planning a professional development training on Google Classroom for the staff of my new school, and working out after school trainings for the staff in the first few weeks of the new school year.

My summer has been amazing thus far, but I am looking forward to returning home, getting back into a routine, eating better, and working out again (I miss running and playing hockey, but in fairness, my knee was banged up too).

Until next time... say hello to my new little friend from South Dakota!