Thursday, February 27, 2014

PAEMST Recognition Trip - Pre-trip Report

I can't believe that the PAEMST Recognition trip to Washington, DC is finally here.  My wife and I have a flight down tomorrow (Friday) after school.  Even though it's only a 4.5 hour drive, I didn't want to deal with traffic or driving late if I could avoid it.  My goal is to document the experience both for myself and for future winners and finalists who are looking for information.  Because of how busy the schedule is, this probably won't be my most eloquent writing, but I want to make sure I get as much info packed into these posts as possible.  Here are a few randomly ordered pre-trip thoughts, tid-bits, facts, and whatnot.

I'm not quite packed yet.  Anyone who knows me and/or has read my Adventures of a Cheap Overplanner with Kids blog knows that I am a firm believer in the carry-on only rule.  That's just not going to happen here.  I feel like I am bringing insane amounts of clothing, but I can't seem to get around bringing two suits, possibly another sport jacket, multiple ties, and casual items for the days before the official PAEMST events get started on Sunday night. Plus, I want to get a 12 mile long-run in on Sunday morning because the Scranton Half Marathon is only a month away.  I've got an awesome route planned out, but that means I need to bring running clothes and shoes.
Planned Running Tour of DC
As for questions that future winners may have about what the National Science Foundation pays for:
  • We could have flown, driven, or taken a train.  All travel expenses are paid for winners and their guests (for those driving they will pay mileage up to the cost of a flight).
  • We get a Per Diem allowance for food, which is adjusted for the meals that are included in the itinerary. 
  • Transportation costs like taxis to/from the airport are reimbursed.
  • The hotel is paid for the nights of the events.  Other nights before or after the trip are your responsibility.
We are flying down two days early and staying at a Hilton Garden Inn near the White House before switching to the Omni Shoreham, where NSF is putting us for the recognition events.  Lori and I are planning on sightseeing on Saturday, visiting the Museum of American History, possibly taking a tour of the monuments on Saturday evening, and going to Georgia Brown's for the Jazz brunch on Sunday morning before making our way to the Omni.  My cousin and his wife, who live between DC and Baltimore may meet us for brunch, which would be nice.

I'm pretty excited about the trip - especially about meeting the other winners.  We've gotten to know each other a bit through a Facebook group that many of us joined, and they seems like amazing people and teachers.  I am so honored and blessed to be among this group.

In order for students in my school (and a few other classes I've invited) to learn along with my on this trip, I've set up a Celly account.  I created a cell on that site that will allow me to post updates and pictures in real time and will allow students and classes to text message me in a controlled, moderated forum.  I'm excited to share the trip with students.  Hopefully there will be some good interaction, and I can spark some learning.

Tomorrow is going to be a crazy day.  I still have a few cool projects to wrap up before I leave.  In the morning I'm helping our 2nd grade gifted students shoot a green screen video with scenes from Japan behind them while they read the Haiku they wrote.  I also have a few things to take care of for EdCamp NEPA.  I'd like to get the letters to local school districts inviting their teachers mailed before I leave.  My mother-in-law will be staying with our kids while we're gone and has generously offered to shorten the pants on the suit I just bought before we leave for the airport.  

Hopefully I'll be able to get a post up tomorrow, but I'm not optimistic. We leave Scranton at 6:55, have a short stopover in Philly, and land at Reagan National at 10:00.  By the time we get to the hotel, I'll likely be spent. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

PAEMST Video Lesson

I promised that I would put this post up a while ago, and unfortunately it's taken this long to get around to it.  With planning for EdCamp NEPA, working to get the EdTech Chat 'n Chew Podcast up and running, connecting teachers through the Virtual Valentines Project, in addition to my other school responsibilities, things have been a bit crazy for the past few months.  It's been a good crazy, though.

So, here is the video lesson I submitted for my winning PAEMST application.  The idea for the lesson literally came to me in the shower the morning before I taught it.  I had actually recorded 2 or 3 lessons before this one, but never felt like any of them were what I wanted to show.  They were all really great lessons, but there was always one or two minor things I couldn't get over.  When this lesson came to me, I knew it was going to be the one I was going to submit.

I'm not one of those "plan everything meticulously ahead" kinds of teachers, even though I'm a "plan everything meticulously ahead" kind of guy in almost every other aspect of my life.  I plan vacations using a spreadsheet 11 months ahead, but I teach spontaneously.  If I get a good idea, we're throwing out whatever was planned for the day.  That's what happened here.

Since Kathleen Seagraves, our technology teacher who had been recording for me, was absent from school the day I taught this lesson I asked Jim Winagle, who was a long term sub at the time in our building, do the recording.

Anyway, to all those who are in the application process and want an example of a winning PAEMST lesson video, to those interested in finding more ways to incorporate whipped cream into your 5th grade math lessons, or those who really want to learn more about the formula for finding the area of a circle:  Enjoy.

I promise to share more about the planning of the trip to Washington DC in the next few days.