Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 - Goodbye

I thought these pictures were really striking:
NBC News 2008 Year in Pictures

2008 was a good year, but I am glad to say goodbye and welcome a great new year - 2009. Looking forward to the progress we will make this spring. :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas at the "Last House Standing"

Christmas at the last house standing

(CNN) -- The streets are dark and the town is deserted, but Pam and Warren Adams still put up Christmas lights outside their Gilchrist, Texas, home. It is one of the few remaining after Hurricane Ike devastated the area in September.

When Ike hit Gilchrist on September 13, it destroyed nearly everything in its path. Most of the 200 or so houses there were flattened by the storm surge, and the Adams home was the only one left standing on the Gulf Coast side of the town.

Now, the couple has returned to repair their battered home. Warren Adams is living in an RV trailer on their beachfront property. Pam Adams, 53, who spends the week at an apartment in Baytown, Texas, drives more than an hour to visit their home each weekend.
Life goes on, even when it seems like doesn't go on all around them. Everything inside the house is waterlogged, mud-coated, and it is a mess. It looks like it is going to be a very long time before it is completely livable. The couple plans on building elsewhere and using this home as a weekend house.
"I'm so proud my house survived," Adams said. "I didn't realize how much I loved the house until I moved into this apartment."

Adams said she and her husband would sit on their balcony and watch the ocean and sunset in the evenings. "I want everything back the way it was," she said. "I want my neighbors back."
That has to be hard. I can not imagine every house in my neighborhood being GONE. My house still standing. I was not surprised to hear that they haven't seen a dime of insurance money yet. This year there will be no present opening in Gilchrist, but 2009 should be much better.
There will be no presents or visits with friends and family. It didn't seem appropriate, Adams said. "Everything's so depressing. We didn't feel like we should be celebrating when everyone's suffering so badly."

But the couple has big hopes for next year. "It'll be a big Christmas with the neighbors," Adams exclaimed. "We'll fry turkeys, and there will be a lot to celebrate."

Adams said she's looking forward to 2009. "I just want to get back home and watch all the structures go up in Gilchrist. We want to be the welcoming committee. We just want everyone to return."
Amazing. I am ready for 2009 as well.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Breakfast with Santa @ AHS

We had a Santa Breakfast at our school this morning, sponsored by the National Honor Society. Aidan had a nice time, but he was soooo shy. All the pretty girls in santa hats just set him off. He kept hiding behind my leg most of the time.

He had a nice time listening to the choir, orchestra and seeing all the other little kids there. But, he didn't go near Santa Claus. One of my former students was dressed up in the Red/White with the beard, pretty funny). We kept trying to get Aidan up there, but he refused. He was too shy. Such is the life of a 4 year-old.

I hope they do it again next year. They did a super job with it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Let it Snow!

I told you it was cold!

It snowed tonight, and I mean REALLY snowed for the first time since we have lived here - since 1994. It is really amazing. I am still shaking my head about it. Aidan had a ball!

Snow balls! The snow was so perfect that it packed into snow balls. I couldn't believe it. Heavy, wet and perfectly 'packable.'

Aidan threw a snowball for the first time in his life. He said to me a few weeks ago, "Daddy, I want to see snow." I felt bad, but I said, "Son, I'm sorry. We don't live in a place that it snows. It may never snow in Houston in your lifetime." Guess Daddy isn't so smart! Less than a month later, he's licking snow out of the air. His comment was, "It tastes like lemons!" I'm not sure what that means.

Aidan said, "Daddy, it's just like Christmas Town." He was thinking about "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer." It really made me smile.

A crazy night. We went to Target and bought an electric blanket. We have no heat because our heater isn't working. Dude is going to come and fix it tomorrow, but for tonight we wanted Aidan to be warm. So he's sleeping in our bed and we'll have a nice cuddly and warm blanket to keep us resting comfortably tonight. Tomorrow the heat will be fixed and we'll probably never need the blanket again!

What a night. We were driving back from Target and people were outside taking pictures on cell phones like crazy. It made me wonder if the cell phone companies saw a spike in texting and pic sending tonight! Tomorrow morning we have 'late arrival' for the kids. We always do on Thursday mornings. From 7 to 9 the teachers are in meetings, so the kids stay home until then. Then we have periods 2, 4 and 6. This gives teachers and opportunity to plan and meet. And tomorrow it'll give students the chance to get out in their yards, have snowball fights and they are going to be pretty wild come 9 am!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pearl Harbor Day

December 7th is Pearl Harbor Day. We should never forget our wounded and fallen veterans. Last Friday in AVID we were lucky to have Sargent Brown visit us and explain how the military benefits system for education works. I came across this website this weekend and thought it made a lot of sense to look into:

Wounded Warrior

How can you get involved? What can you do? According to the site they mention what just a few have done here:
One gentleman and his two friends took three days to walkover 130 miles from Miami, FL to Key West, FL, not as a fundraiser but to simply raise awareness for Wounded Warrior Project. Decked out in WWP shirts, with a flag, literature, and stickers, they spread the word to drivers and locals passing by. On their walk they did receive checks for WWP, but more importantly were able to let more people know that there are opportunities through WWP to help take care of these young men and women when they return severely injured from war.
Little things mean a lot. You can also buy some gear - like backpacks - at the site. Proceeds go to help our wounded warriors.

Want to meet some of our wounded warriors: Meet the Wounded Warriors

Have any ideas on what we can do to help?

Saturday, November 22, 2008 - Great resource -- It's a great resource of college information!

Party Time!

All the tutoring, questions, hard work, and studying have paid off. We had a chance to celebrate a bit last Monday. So let's relive a little of the fun...

Grades for the second six week's period were GREAT. So last Monday we enjoyed a party to celebrate everyone's hard work. It was a lot of fun.

Keep up the good work! The only grade that matters in your classes is the one that you will get at the end of the semester. So don't sit around and rest on your laurels. We have finals waiting for us that will be 20% of your grade. We need to start preparing now. Good luck! It's going to be even more fun to celebrate in January when those semester grades are in the book and look great!

Higher Education Woes

There is a problem with this economy, less money all around. As the stock market plunges, higher educational institutions are finding that money that is usually there is lacking.

How can it effect you?
*Money for grants and loans for school
*Money for funding of campus housing and books.

The video below documents what is happening at many schools right now:

What can you do? Start saving now. Start looking for scholarships now. Plan, Plan, Plan. Also, start to widen your search of possible schools. Maybe the economy will not be great when you have to chose a school. So you might have to look at some state schools, local schools, or community colleges.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Aidan Says Thanks for the Party Hat!

Thanks Lexus and 7th Period AVID I Freshmen!

We had a great party today in 7th period. So much fun. Pictures to come later.

Socratic Seminar - "Good Boy Beau"

Tomorrow we are going to be doing our first Socratic Seminar of the year. We are going to use our tutors to facilitate the discussion in small tutoring groups. The text I have chosen is a column by Anna Quinlen of Newsweek Magazine. It is about her old dog Beau. It is a touching article that dives into the meaning of what it is all about to live life to it's fullest and then realize life has a way of wearing us all down.

I am hoping the article can pose a few questions about all of our humanity and make us realize that life is to be lived to the fullest.

Anna Quinlen's "Good Boy, Beau. Stay."
Put a pork roast in the oven, and the guy still breathes as audibly as an obscene caller. The eyes and ears are gone, but the nose is eternal.
By Anna Quindlen | Newsweek Web Exclusive
excerpt: I once had an editor who hated dead-dog columns. (I did one anyway.) This is a live-dog column. It's a shame that obituaries and eulogies come only after people are gone and unable to appreciate them. How many times after a memorial service have you said of the deceased, "She would have loved it"? Rumor has it that certain celebs, knowing The New York Times writes important obits well in advance, have tried to get a peek at their own. The expressed rationale is fact-checking, but I suspect it has more to do with self-esteem. Beau, of course, will have no idea what is said about him. But he does seem to know that a laptop in its case near the front door means a trip to the country, which even now, gimpy as he is, sends him into a fandango.

The life of a good dog is like the life of a good person, only shorter, more compressed. Beau started off wild and crazy. My most enduring memory of his youth is of him galloping around the yard, purloined needlepoint yarn streaming from his mouth. One summer he was skunked three times and spent weeks studded with spines after indulging his taste for advanced decomposition by rolling on a dead porcupine. He did not learn to swim until he realized it was the only way to keep geese off the pond.

But he also ran with his master every morning, posed in front of the fireplace in winter in a recumbent position like an insurance ad, and suffered the addition of a female yellow Lab to the household six years ago. He stayed off the furniture and did not jump on guests. People admired his self-control, on the street and at dinner parties, although one New Year's Eve he was discovered with his muzzle buried to the ears in a bowl of chocolate truffles.
What did you think of the article and our first Socratic Seminar? Would you like to do more?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sam Houston State University

On Monday November 3rd, Mr. Duez's sophomores will head up I-45 and visit Sam Houston State U. Thought I would post a few tidbits before our trip.

Sam Houston State University official site
Enrollment of approximately 16,416
Average class size of 31 students
Faculty:student ratio of 1:20
Beautiful 272-acre main campus
Every office, classroom and residence hall room is equipped with a high speed Internet connection
Located only 70 miles from downtown Houston in Huntsville
Nickname: Bearkat Since the animal in the saying was thought more mythical than real, the spelling settled upon was "Bearkat."
Moto: "The measure of a Life is its Service."
Alma Mater:
Hail to Sam Houston, School we love best,
Mighty in battle, True to the test.
Bearkats so loyal, Ever we’ll be.
Orange and white Will lead us to victory!

Hail, Alma Mater Hats off to you,
Ever you'll find us Loyal and true;
Firm and undaunted Ever we'll be,
Here's to the school we love
Here's a toast to thee.

Bearkat Fight Song:
Fight, Fight, you Bearkats!
Fight on through!
We're here in back of you!
You know again we're here to win,
so fight on to the end.

Fight Fight Fight
Loyal we'll ever be and true to SHSU
We'll fight and fight with all our might
for Sam Houston's Orange and White.

Monday, October 20, 2008

2 Million Minutes - Controversy

We have watched 2 Million Minutes in class and the students are coming up with a good question for philosophical chairs.

What did you think AVID students? Is this a controversial documentary?

Educators comment at the end of this clip about the concept that America is behind India and China:

Are Indians not "well-rounded" when compared to Americans? Apoorva and Rohit offer their opinions.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Amazing Video - Hurricane Ike

Amazing video here. But, you won't be able to view it at school. It's a YouTuber.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hurricane Ike

We are now in San Antonio and I am having my first computer time in over a week. Strange, but I didn't really struggle or miss it as much as I thought I would. I guess we were too busy taking care of Aidan, worrying about getting a good meal and considering that we needed to have fun despite the power outage.

I have finally started to see some of the footage out here on the Internet about the storm. I started with some stuff from our community. I found this youtube video pretty haunting, but it was exactly how it looked at our house too, just before the storm:
Youtube Video - will not work at school:

This one really got to me... it's of a lone house in Gilcrest. The video is amazing.

I found these pictures on the Houston Chronicle website. They just made me shake my head. Amazing how things happen sometimes...

Today I'll be watching my Houston Texans battle the Titans and hoping a win might cheer everyone up a bit. A friend of mine that lives in the next neighborhood over from us emailed me last night and said he has power. So maybe there is hope for when we go back on Monday. I know that will give me hope that things will be back to normal soon when we have power.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

TV Interview

Here is my interview on our cable educational access channel about AVID.

AVID Interview from fordee on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Dancing at the Game

Friday night was the "Father-Daughter" dance for our school's dance team at half time of the football game. I was honored to dance with a former student of mine. Her Dad was unable to dance because he has MS.

Aidan had a great time at the game. Norma struggled some because her ankle was REALLY sore after working all week. But, she toughed it out and we went home and iced it down after half time. At that point the awesome Eagles were up 21-0 and later went on to win 40-0. Now the AHS Eagles are 2-0 for the first time in their three year history! Pretty exciting.

Half time went very well. My dance partner was great. She is quite the dancer. Afterwards her mom thanked me for dancing with her and I said, "Well, she made me look good, didn't she? She had to work PRETTY HARD to do that!" And I smiled. To make this white guy look good is pretty much an impossible task. But, she got the job done. It was a lot of fun to see the kids from school yelling my name and waving.

One of the teachers that I worked with said, "You looked pretty good for a guy that was just in an accident last week. Nice and loose." Well, the adrenaline was pumping a little. I never even tried to do 1/2 the moves that we practiced until last night because I didn't want to hurt my back any more than it is. But, once we got out there I was fine.

My dance partner's father has MS. So he couldn't dance with her. I felt a little guilty because he should be out there... but at the same time, I was proud to stand in for him. It is always amazing how something like this goes such a long way with the kids. They really enjoyed it.

Aidan had a ball. I waved up to him from the field and he waved back. It was cool to have him there watching. So I guess now I can say that my son saw me on a football field. Of course, this was NOTHING like what I used to do on a football field. It is actually much harder to face the stands and dance than it is to play a sport like football where you are just focused on your opponent. I never really paid much attention to the stands when I played.

Today I am a little sore and a little cranky. But, I am so glad to have had the chance to dance with her. It was a lot of fun.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Dark Side of the Rainbow

This week we watched a short clip of The Wizard of Oz in AVID. I asked the students to consider who might play the parts of the characters in the movie in their life. It was a nice writing assignment and some students did an excellent job of coming up with comparison, simile, and metaphor.

We discussed a bit in my AVID II sophomore class that some have thought it odd how the Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd and the Wizard of Oz seem to go together. You start both at the very beginning and turn the sound down on the movie and the sound up on the album. I thought I'd post a few of the similarities here. We obviously don't have time in class to get into all that there. :)

Wikipedia says this: "When the album is played simultaneously with the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, numerous images from the film appear to synchronize with the music and lyrics. All band members (save Roger Waters) and engineer Alan Parsons have firmly stated that the phenomenon is a coincidence. This effect has often been called Dark Side of the Rainbow. Arguably, playing any two media together will produce an impression of a striking amount of coincidence (an effect known as apophenia)."

Rolling Stone did a quick Video Mashup of the coincidences: Dark Side of Oz! Pretty neat.

Here is the very beginning of the movie in sync with the album:

According to this author, here are the similarities:
Here are some interesting parallels that we've noticed over the years. As I said, I've tried to keep this list to the more striking moments. An internet search will turn up dozens more.

-First and foremost - take a look at the cover of the album. It's white light exploding into color, just as the films moves from black and white into color.

-In Breathe, the lyrics say "balanced on the biggest wave," as Dorothy balances carefully on a piece of wood.

-The piercing bells of Time begin just as the Wicked Witch of the West appears on her bicycle (it's pretty chilling if synced correctly).

-The lyrics say "home, home again, I like to be here when I can," as Dorothy contemplates heading back to the farm.

-Great Gig in the Sky begins as Dorothy's house goes up into the tornado. The wails of Clare Torry, the female vocalist, crescendo and decrescendo as Dorothy sails up into the sky, and then back down again. Again, it's pretty chilling. Also, Great Gig in the Sky is an interesting title for a song with no lyrics - They could have called it anything. Why something so reminiscent of Dorothy's situation?

-Then, in what is probably the most amazing feature of the sync, if your CD and movie are lined up just right, Dorothy opens the door to the world of color just as the cash register opens in Money. It's pretty amazing. And interesting that Money is the song playing while we are introduced to a world made of gold.

-Sometimes, it seems the munchkins dance to the rhythm of Money; though that may be stretching a bit.

-In Us and Them, the lyrics say "black and blue, and who knows which is which, and who is who," as the camera switches from the Wicked Witch (black) to Dorothy (in a blue dress). Did they mean "which is which" or "witch is witch?"

-In the same song, the lyrics say "up and down, but in the end it's only round and round," which is exactly what happened to Dorothy's house.

-It's interesting that the title of next song, Any Colour You Like, references "color." Again, it's an instrumental that could have been given any title.

-The next song is called Brain Damage - and we meet the "brainless" Scarecrow.

-In Brain Damage, the lyrics say "the lunatic is on the grass," as the Scarecrow, who's made of straw (grass), dances around.

-The song Eclipse ends with a thudding heartbeat, as Dorothy listens to the Tin Man's chest in search of a heartbeat.

What do you think? Coincidence??? Silliness??? Neat? Stupid?

Car Accident

I wanted to give everyone an update. Mr. Duez will be back on Tuesday. I am suffering from some headaches, back, neck and shoulder strain... but I am walking ok and I believe I should be back to work on Tuesday. I really missed class on Friday with you guys.

Well, Thursday was a tough day. We left our house around 5:30pm and headed off to have Italian at a new place in Kingwood. We pulled out of our village and headed up a two lane street. There was a truck in the lane coming towards us and he suddenly turned left onto a side street and plowed right into us. Very scary.

There was nothing I could do. I slammed on the brakes as he hit us. It was almost simultaneous. He had no turn signal on. And there was just no indication in my mind that he would ever try that turn. After hitting us, he also rammed into a lady who was stopped at that street and about to turn onto the same lane we were traveling in. I immediately got out and checked on Norma and Aidan. He cried for about 10 or 15 minutes which we were panicking and worrying about him. Once he calmed down we realized he was fine. He had some strap marks across his chest and shoulders and that was it.

The car was totaled. My right front passenger side made impact first on his right front passenger side of his Chevy Truck. Again this just shows there was no way I could have avoided him. It's not like I clipped the end of the bed of his truck or something as he crossed into our lane.

Our car spun with the back end pulling around and into the lane he was coming from. It jerked us around pretty good. I know my middle back is aching because of that twist and torque. Norma injured her ankle, which probably struck and was pinned by my seat. She was seated behind me. Aidan was in the back in the passenger side. Believe me, we are so pleased with our car seat that protected Aidan: Britax Marathon - worth every penny.

Luckily for us there was a cop in the car behind the guy that plowed into us. He jumped out of the car after calling the accident in and reporting it. The guy who hit us in the truck looked at the officer and said, "I never saw them." The officer said, "How the hell could you NOT have seen them! What's wrong with you!" It was nice to not have to yell at anyone, he was doing a good job of it for me.

In a matter of minutes there were at least 20 neighbors around us. Lots of them said they heard the crash from their homes. One lady brought ice for Norma's ankle and water for all of us. The police arrived and took our statements. They explained that they issued a citation to the driver of the truck and they gave me the insurance information.

In 38 years I have NEVER had an accident. I know I have been lucky... but I am an excellent driver. Our car was paid off in January! That really, really sucks that we will now have a car payment.

Today was spent in the emergency clinic for about 3 hours getting checked out. Norma has bumps and bruises all over and a badly sprained ankle. She's limping pretty good on it... but I am trying to keep her from walking on it. I have back, shoulder, and neck pain. My left knee is also bugging me. So we know we'll have a few weeks of discomfort ahead of us.

After the doctor we brought on more pain by meeting with our insurance claims agent. She verified that the driver of the truck had insurance through All-State and that our claim should be against them since he was at fault. She said they would be contacting me. I've never gone through this before. But, I am tempted to get some type of lawyer. We can not afford to be screwed around here. Yet a lawyer could screw us in just as many ways.

At this point we are going to know the value of our car at retail - it's about $15,000 for a 2003 Honda Accord. So we'd like to get between 15 and 20 grand out of this to put towards a new car. I CAN NOT BELIEVE we have to buy a new car. At this point we are considering a Honda Civic. My Honda was really, really good to me. We'll also test drive and consider Saturn Aura. I would love to buy a hybrid Prius or something of that quality but it is so much more expensive. And we are teachers. It's not like I have a money tree growing out back.

It's been a crazy week. First week of school and I've already missed a day with my kids! We are counting our blessings though. We are all ok. Cars are "things" and people are important.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

2007-2008 AHS AVID Video

For the first year of AVID at our school, it sure was GREAT! If you would like the password to watch this video, please email me and I will send it to you. :)
Email Mr. Duez

AVID_2007_2008 from fordee on Vimeo.

Looking forward to making more memories in 2008-2009.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Flight School Landing

Hey everyone, it was great to see those of you who were up at school for flight school. I was there this week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. I missed Thursday because I had a class to take.

Freshmen - I am very excited about this year. We have a wonderful class shaping up. Our class roster is not totally finished yet, but it will be shortly. I am looking forward to getting started on the journey with you all.

Sophomores - You guys rock! Vanessa (and maybe CJ) will be heading to TMS to discuss the AVID binder on Monday morning. I am so excited for you guys and I wish I could be there. Unfortunately it is my first "contract" day of work. So I will be at AHS getting started and preparing for the school year.

I will be spending some time this week working on these things:
* AVID Parent Meeting Video ~ it is shaping up nicely!
* Double Checking student schedules to be sure that everyone is in classes that they should be.
* Hiring our final tutors. Right now we have 3 and I just need to hire one more!
* Planning our first two weeks together this year.

Can't wait to see everyone on August 25th during 6th and 7th periods!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Flight School - Thu & Fri

Hey everyone, don't forget about Flight School:
Thursday for Sophomores
Friday for Freshmen

Get your schedules, visit with your counselors, check your locker, get your books.

I'll be there on Friday to meet with new AVID freshmen and their parents.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

First Parent Meeting - August 19th

Hope summer has been going great for everyone. I have had a wonderful, wonderful summer with my lovely wife and awesome boy.

School starts in just two weeks. I am very excited about it... this is going to be a GREAT year.

To get things kicked off we'll have our first AVID Parent Meeting on:
AUGUST 19th at 6:30 PM in the Auditorium at AHS (Also known as the Performing Arts Center or PAC)

We want to welcome all of our incoming freshmen from AMS and TMS (we have two full classes coming in) and welcome back our wonderful Juniors and Sophomores.

I will also be at school on Tuesday (for Senior Flight School) to recruit tutors for AVID. I will be up at school on Friday as well to be checking with freshmen and double checking their schedules. I would recommend very highly that you attend the sophomore AHS Flight School this week (it is on Thursday) and get your schedule verified with your counselor. They will be there from 8 to 2pm to sit down and be sure everything is how you want it.

If anyone has any questions about what classes they should be taking, please let me know. AVID period this year will be 6th period again. We will be meeting in my new classroom in the Blue House - room 2605. I can't wait to get started!

Can't wait to see everyone. Please spread the word about the AVID Parent Meeting (in case I miss anyone with the email) and let me know if you think you can make it. All students and family members are invited to come by on the 19th. I will be creating a video for the occasion to look back at the great things we accomplished last year and to invite our new AVID students.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

iTunes U.

Ever wonder what it would be like to sit in a college class? iTunes U gives you that opportunity to learn and see what college would be like - from your own computer:

Learn More About iTunes U

iTunes U is a part of the iTunes Store featuring free lectures, language lessons, audiobooks, and more, that you can enjoy on your iPod, iPhone, Mac or PC. Explore over 50,000 educational audio and video files from top universities, museums and public media organizations from around the world. With iTunes U, there's no end to what or where you can learn.
What a great resource!