Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cathedral of St. John the Divine and a walk in The Park

Sunday dawned and we grabbed a quick breakfast snack and strolled up Amsterdam Avenue to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the third largest church in the world, (after St. Paul's in Rome, understandably, and another in the Ivory Coast, of all places- this according to Lonely Planet).

From Blogger Pictures

In the afternoon we took an walk in the park- Central Park. We entered just a few blocks from our hotel at Strawberry Fields. An ad-hoc tribute band was singing every Beatles song ever written. Just so happened they were singing "Strawberry Fields!" Click here to listen.

From Blogger Pictures

The Jazz Band playing improv was amazing, especially the trumpet player.
From Blogger Pictures

You can click here to list to some of his solo. It went on for a few minutes!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Shopping Spree, or "Rolex, Rolex, Rolex!"

From 72nd Street Station, just down from the Beacon Hotel, we jumped onto the #3 express train all he way to Chambers Street Station near the Financial District and walked the rest of the way to The Embassy Suites hotel where Steve and Catherine were staying. They had invited us for the huge buffet breakfast that more than stuffed our tummies. Next it was off to Canal Street via Tribeca for some serious bartering...I
Even in the mid-morning the sidewalks of Canal Street are packed with shoppers and "merchants" (if I use the term loosely) eager to trade. Colleen was first off the mark with a green glass Budda that she got for one dollar after some heated bartering. As we moved further into the centre o the action, the atmosphere was quite charged, as the sellers became more aggressive and the antics more entertaining. We crossed to the north side where rows of Haitians with huge suitcases whisper at you. "Rolex, Rolex, Rolex!" says one. "Gucci, Coach, Louis Vittant, purses," speaks another. "Ray Bans, sunglasses," beckons from a third. Then suddenly, just as you approach the wares, they close their suitcases as if in harmony, they have sensed a mystical force, wearing a uniform that might see their knock-off merchandise. If you ask to see a watch, they come from behind, from a pocket or black plastic bag, and only for a fleeting moment. If you get too curious, sometimes the merchandise goes away, sometimes you get a finger pointing inside an alley, or a door opens inside a store. It's all a very different style of shopping for the initiated.
If you know what you are looking for, and don't mind the fact that, in all likelihood, what you bought is a knock-off with a life-span measured in months, not years, then the price paid is minimal. Gucci purse- $35. Ray Ban sunglasses- $9. Rolex watch- $35.
I was looking for a Tissot T-Touch watch. Hard to find, I discovered. After hearing "Rolex, Rolex, Rolex!" one too many time, I said, "Tissot?" Don't have one," a big black guy replies. "Let me make a call." He pulls out his phone, but there's no answer. I carry on down the street to see how Colleen is doing with the RayBan sunglasses. Two for $18 was her best deal. Steve and Catherine also scored some good stuff. Colleen also managed to get a few things. Hmmm. We carried on up the street.
Almost an hour later, and I've not received any positive responses to my Tissot watch request. The closets I got was a head nod and a finger pointing inside a back room. We're walking back and the I am approached by the same guy. He says he's got his man on the phone. "Tell him the name of the watch," he says. I say "Tissot" into his mobile phone but no luck. My new friend, who calls himself "Prince" says he'll keep trying and make some more calls. I think I'd rather not run into Prince again.

From Blogger Pictures

Later, we took the ferry to Liberty and Ellis Islands. Hurricane Bill was wreaking havoc with the weather and the skies, which made for some pretty interesting visuals and even better photos. How's this one of Liberty herself? It's taken in the mid afternoon in her shadow with my iPhone.

From Blogger Pictures

Friday, August 21, 2009

Off to the Financial District- Rendezvous

Not really knowing how far downtown is to walk, we started off towards the Hudson River and intended to walk south for our customary (remember our strict regimen?) one hour. It was stinkin' hot, but the breeze from the river was wonderful and the boardwalk trail system the follow the River south is well developed and quite interesting.
We were supposed to have met up with Australian friends who, unfortunately, had to cancel their trip. Our friends Steve and Catherine, and their daughter Caitlin, had told us they were driving down to NYC for the weekend. They had been there many times- Steve goes as his brother works on Wall Street and Irish born Catherine worked in the travel industry and has been going since she first arrived in Canada. We planned to meet up at their hotel in the Financial District.
After an hour and a half of walking, Steve called wondering where we were. We had tried to hail a cab but realized that the expressway next to the boardwalk was not a good place to get a cab. We turned towards downtown and found one right away, and were quickly delivered to the their hotel.
Across from their hotel was located the Irish Hunger' Memorial, which looks like a little piece of the old sod with a stone brought from each county, including Wexford, where my relatives are from, and Dublin, where Catherine was born.
From Blogger Pictures

Together we walked to the World Trade Center site, shopped at "Century 21' (can you say DEALS?!), and had lunch in the Financial District. We parted with plans to meet up later for dinner at Steve's brother's favourite Soho restaurant. Passing Trinity Wall Street Episcopal church, we stopped to view the bronze sculpture of the sycamore tree's roots, that protected St. Paul's Chapel on September 11, 2001.
From Blogger Pictures

We walked to the Staten Island Ferry terminal where we boarded the John F. Kennedy, all the while wondering about the US armed Coast Guard Zodiac escort that followed our ferry across to the Island. The gentleman we chatted with didn't seem surprised. As a former Soho resident, marathon runner and businessman, he offered many insights into city life. Lightly dressed in the stifling heat, humidity and harbour breeze, he described life on Staten Island, running the NY Marathon, as well as other things.
Returning from the Island, we took our first foray into the NYC Subway. It's amazing! The double tracks allow for local and express trains. We quickly figured out how to switch from one track to the other to make trips more quick and efficient. In 20 minutes we were already back to our 75th Street location, ready for a shower. The subway cars, I might add, are all air conditioned but imagine the heat being pumped out of them into the tunnels! The temperature on the platforms was in the high 40s!
We returned to Soho, having mastered the art of the express subway train (Upper West Side to Soho in 20 minutes- take that TTC!) where we met Steve and Catherine in front of Raoul's bistro on Prince Street. Steve and I visited the corner store to buy a ticket on the NY lottery (prize estimated at $205 million and no, we did not win!) while the others gathered at the art gallery next door. Wild stuff in there!
Catherine and Colleen (the chardonnay assassins) had to settle for the low priced French white as their first choice, the $4100 Burgundy, did not pass the men's approval (it should be noted that they were already drinking large bottles of Belgian Brevel beer).The corn and lobster gazpacho, Noix Saint Jacques, and the blueberry dessert far exceeded the restaurant's reputation, and even the bill!
A stroll to Washington Square helped us work off the wonderful meal. We said our goodnights and then hopped back onto the subway and were home in 20 minutes (take the #1 train north to Times Square and transfer to the #2 express to 72nd Street)!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New York City- Summer Vacation

In Canada, decimal 3% of all road accidents involve a Moose, so it's safer to fly. So off we went to NYC on Aeroplan points. But counting the time it takes to get to the airport, stand in line, check-in, go through US Customs, go through security (and forget that your kayak knife is buried in the secret pocket (but that's another story), board, fly, collect your luggage, get on a shuttle bus to the city, find your hotel and check-in, you could have driven in the same amount of time. But if the journey is as important as the destination, it does not really matter, does it?
We arrived by 9:30 am and after collecting our bags and finding the bus to Grand Central, we waited for the hotel shuttle. The concierge was new so he booked us onto a shuttle not knowing our hotel was outside the free zone. The driver took us anyway and we had a tour of Midtown as we were last to be dropped and and got to see some of the sights, like Times Square and Central Park. Good orientation, despite the fact that the air conditioning didn't work and it was pushing +35!
Based on our initial experience with traffic in NYC, we'd say it's a miracle that more people aren't run over by yellow taxis, however! One must keep their wits about them as pedestrians in this city!
From Blogger Pictures

Arriving at our Broadway and 75th Street Hotel Beacon, we settled in and immediately decided to walk across the street to Fairways grocery to get some eats. As I stepped out of the hotel, my iPhone rang and who do you think it was? The Late Night with David Letterman Show calling about my ticket request. Turns out we are slated for Monday's taping and all we have to do is show up at 2 pm at the Ed Sullivan Theatre and give the secret password (Paul's Gold List) and we'll be in.
The Hotel Beacon, promoted as "The Jewel of the Upper West Side, is on Broadway (yes, famous Broadway!) and 75th street in a really vibrant neighbourhood. Only 100 metres from the 72nd street Subway, across from the most amazing grocery stores we've ever seen and close to all sorts of places, such as Central Park and Strawberry Fields, the Lincoln Centre, Columbus Circle and the American Museum of Natural History, to name a few.
Fairways grocery, we discovered, had the most eclectic variety of cheeses, fish, fruit and vegetables, as well as beer!
We grabbed some dinner there ($20 for salmon and veggies).
Having promised ourselves that we would continue our strict walking regimen, we headed out towards Central Park, down to Columbus Circle and along Central Park South towards Fifth Avenue and, coincidentally, The Apple Store. Open 24/7, 365, the evening crowds, we were told, were average for a Thursday night. We could barely move inside. It's across from the Fairmont Manhattan and next to FAO Schwartz, the world's largest toy store.
From Blogger Pictures

We walked back to the hotel having enjoyed our first day in the "Big Apple!"

Monday, August 17, 2009

Back to School

Here's a link to an article about the kinds of things a 21st century teacher could be doing in the weeks leading up to the start of school. How many of them have you checked off your list? Have a look here.

Friday, August 14, 2009

'Nuff Said:

Is social media changing the world as we know it? Dr. Tim Tyson thinks so. See his blog post here and watch the Youtube video he embedded.

'Nuff Said:: "


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Blogs in Education

I am exploring Blogs in Education in my Web 2.0 Wilkes class this week. I have been reading all sorts of things about Blogs in Education.

Here's a starting list of possible uses of blogs in school.


Post a prompt

Week in Review

Respond to a Reading

Find the Facts

Critique a site

Current Events

Snow Day assignments

Field Trip

Role Play a Point of View

Sports Reporter

Add your idea by Posting a comment...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ghost Bird at Hot Docs Film Festival

Last night, I attended the premier of Ghost Bird, a film about the "rediscovery" of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker in Arkansas. The film answered lots of questions, and provided lots of points of view, from the convinced, to the skeptics, including famed bird artist and author, David Sibley. I saw, however, an underlying thread that there was some kind of conspiracy going on. Was there? Why else were there clips of Laura Bush and Donald Rumsfeld? See it for yourself.

Posted by ShoZu

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Story of Stuff Goes International

Have a look at The Story of Stuff in the language of your own choice!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Blogging from an iPhone

This is a test of the iPhones' Mobile blogging capability.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Smoozin' with the Press

Here I am in D.C. The weather's been cool and drizzly but that has not dampened my excitement about seeing all the historic sites, monuments, and even President Obama's motorcade.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Technology Product Review

This is one of many things I learned today: How to make an animated GIF. Just visit today's Teach42 posting and find out how to do it yourself.

How do you like my work so far? The video is one my son to shoot as I am skateboard challenged and I needed a "Shadow Shot" for my Portable Video Production Course.

Monday, March 9, 2009

‘Les Enseignants Sans Frontières’

While writing my final paper for my Technology, Creativity (and Globalization) course in Instructional Media at Wilkes University, I came up with an idea that had begun weeks before at my monthly CISESS team meeting, that is, of belonging to a broad professional learning group. What better thing than to name one myself, since I have already been participating in one.
Some of my classmates from Wilkes set one up using their school's online instructional software. We meet Tuesday nights to discuss ideas, assignments, jobs, and, even politics sometimes. We are already spread across the continent. All we need is a few members from other corners of the world.
Want to join? I see this Blog has been picked up in every continent except Africa and Antarctica, so we are well on the way.
Add a comment and let me know if you want to be in!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Compelling Home Video of Australian Bushfires in February

With the threat of fire continuing in Victoria, and some stories of survival of the fires from weeks ago still emerging, this powerful video came to my attention.
See my entry below from February 9th for a live map of present fires.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Technology Product Review

Recently, the Peel District School Board (my employer) tendered an RFP for a new supplier of Document Cameras, a technology gaining rapidly in popularity in classrooms across the District. As a new member of the Instructional Technology Resource Teacher’s team, I was called to a meeting with the Purchasing Department and the Audio- Visual Technician’s team to compare the submitted Vendors’ products. This was an excellent experience since we were able to evaluate the two products, compare features side-by-side, and learn about the present and future capabilities of this technology.
The Avermedia CP300 Portable Document Camera is one in the latest iterations of document cameras that are finding there way into everyday educational practice in classrooms. I had the good fortune of having a dedicated document camera in my classroom linked to an LCD projector and a networked computer. This combination of technology tools at the focus of the classroom began a revolution in teaching that is beginning to transform teaching and learning in the Middle School classroom. I cannot imagine teaching without one now.
This product was recently reviewed by the Media Technologies team in the school district where I am employed, as part of an RFP. The previous product tendered for schools, manufactured by another vendor, was also upgraded and submitted for consideration. Testing by the Media team determined that the Avermedia product outperformed its competitor supplying a sharper image, more standard features, more portability and also included new, advanced features that lend itself to leading edge use in the classrooms of today, and tomorrow.
Some of the camera’s outstanding features include the ability to: capture any image, project live or captured images through an LCD projector or via the Internet, to project 3-D objects in fine detail and to project images from a microscope, and, to annotate, record video, or save the images to a computer, SD card or USB device.
Numerous examples of applications of the technology and its connection to globalized education are available. Capturing student work for display in and beyond the classroom, video capture of the steps in an multi-step lesson and using the video in your own class and beyond, sharing work in real time or at a later date between collaborative groups using the network feature. Students can easily use the document camera to capture series of stop-motion still images when making paper or claymation animations. An excellent guide called “One Hundred one ways k-12 teachers use Document cameras” can be found on the Internet and has been distributed to teachers who have a camera in their classroom. Other guides are available on the Internet s well.
The product chosen by the School District is the AverMedia AverVision CP300 Portable Document Camera. With its lightweight, portable design using a gooseneck camera mount makes it the perfect choice for classroom use. The image quality out-performs other makes. It has built -in LED lighting and patented laser guides, which allow for easy locating of the subject to be imaged. It comes with a remote, which allows the instructor to be anywhere in the room while using all the features of the camera. The product, as tendered to the School Board (for a significant quantity of product), is priced at $CDN 579, and retails through the US based AverMedia Online Store for $US 699 per unit.
The camera requires a 120 V AC power outlet and proximity to an LCD projector and computer, for network connections. It is a good thing to have a seat near the camera, as teachers and students will often sit at the camera while demonstrating. Students enjoy coming up to the camera to show their solutions to Mathematics problems and are even more motivated when the teacher captures the steps in their solution for replaying to the class, or other students. Imagine having a Problem Solving challenge each day between the class and another one in the school, in the District, or elsewhere, then sharing solutions with the camera. Being able to show local, as well as distant solutions allows all learners to observe the steps in a solution at their own pace. These captures can be used as examples and placed on the Internet for students to view at their leisure.
This technology is leading edge and is an easily justifiable expense when one considers the increased learning that it promotes within and beyond the classroom.


Avermedia Technologies (2008). AverVision Document Camera 2008 Product Catalog. Miliptas, California.

101 Ways K-12 Teachers Use Document Cameras. Retrieved February 11, 2009 from

Globalization Lesson Plans

Here are the 2 lesson plans I created for my "Using Technology to Support Creativity" course last week.

Glad to share with the class (and others)!

Lesson 1: Understanding Empathy (For Grades 7-9)

1. Introduction – Gaining Attention
a. Video Trailer from “Slumdog Millionaire”
i. Show clip after thinking about the question “Ignoring the controversies about realistic portrayal of the Mumbai slums, how did you feel about the main character and his childhood in the slum?”

2. Goals- to understand the meaning of “empathy” and to apply it to people of other cultural, linguistic or religious heritage.

3. Stimulate Prior Recall
a. Use Survey Monkey ( to respond anonymously to the following 4 question survey
i. Have you ever “become emotional” or cried while watching a movie? (Y/N)
ii. Have you seen the film “Slumdog Millionaire”? (Y/N)
iii. Did you “become emotional” or cry when you watched Slumdog Millionaire? (Y/N)
iv. If you answered Y to #3, in which scene did you cry? A) the scenes of the boys’ poor childhood B) the violence in the police interrogation C) the orphan boy being blinded D) the thought that the main characters would never be reunited? E) all of the above?
b. Complete the quiz and view the results on an LCD
c. Discuss the responses.
d. Discuss how the feelings created when we watch film or read books may be empathy
e. Discuss some of the elements in Mumbai culture that viewers may feel empathy towards
i. Poverty, living conditions, lack of education, inequality etc.

4. Present New Information – What is Empathy?
a. View Discovery Streaming Video Clip “What is Empathy?” (5 mins)
b. Discuss the scenarios and questions as presented in the Video Clip
c. Discuss and develop a working definition of Empathy
i. Encarta “em·pa·thy n
1. the ability to identify with and understand another person’s feelings or difficulties
2. the transfer of your own feelings and emotions to an object such as a painting
d. Compare Empathy and Sympathy
i. Use a Venn diagram on the LCD to brainstorm the difference

5. Provide Guided Learning Experience – Student Role Play
a. Students will create, in small groups, role plays which show, or do not show, empathy
b. Present to class, audience has to determine whether empathy was evident, or not, or if sympathy was evident

6. Independent / Group Learning Experience
a. Each group creates a portfolio of digital photographs which are freeze frames of empathy, with the emotion clear, project onto screen for class reactions
b. examples
i. a person speaking and a group listening intently
ii. a person upset and another being empathetic
iii. a person is happy and another is sharing the joy

7. Provide Feedback
a. Peers describe the emotion they think is being demonstrated and whether the others in the group are showing empathy

8. Assess Performance
a. Students write, create, perform and video a puppet show with Empathy as the focus

9. Enhance Retention and Transfer
a. Students will apply knowledge of Empathy to second lesson involving Emapthy beyond their own nationality, culture, language, religion etc.

Lesson Two: Practising Empathy

1. Introduction – Gaining Attention
a. Ask students if they are familiar with the Amish culture found in the USA and Canada
b. Students will view the Discovery Streaming Video “Amish Religion and Youth”
c. Discuss the differences in growing up as children and teens in Amish culture vs North American mainstream culture from the film or knowledge

2. Learner Outcomes
a. to recognize the elements of another culture and demonstrate empathy for children who live in other places and other cultures

3. Stimulate Prior Recall
a. View Slideshow of images of Amish culture
i. Horse, buggy
ii. Farming
iii. Clothing
iv. Hats
v. Bonnets
vi. Walking

b. Optional- View images of life in a totalitarian regime, eg. Nazi Germany

4. Present New Information
a. Introduce novel The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis
b. Read aloud – read excerpts that demonstrate the difficulties of life growing up under a totalitarian regime
c. Students read and discuss novel and the elements of culture in the story that are similar/ different to their own
d. Make a Venn Diagram

5. Provide Guided Learning Experience
a. Students will conduct Research about Afghanistan or another culture using
i. Internet
ii. Books
iii. Atlas
iv. Interview a person from that country
b. View film or film segment
i. film title: “Obama”

6. Independent / Group Learning Experience
a. Students create a role plays
i. Interviewer and interviwee
ii. A dialogue that explores the focal points of the culture that was researched from the list below
1. Music, food, dance, religion, literature, film, government, history, etc.
iii. Video record and edit the interview
iv. Present to class

7. Provide Feedback
a. use peer and teacher evaluations of the performances using a rubric

8. Assess Performance
a. Students will create a mindmap using Inspiration or Smart Ideas which compares culture in mainstream North America, Amish, Afghanistan and other
i. Music, food, dance, religion, literature, film, government, history, etc.
ii. Links should explain how student feels about the similarities and differences between the cultures i.e. emapthy

9. Enhance Retention and Transfer
a. Students read a sequel or similar novel
i. Parvana’s Journey by Deborah Ellis
ii. The Banana Tree by James Berry

Friday, February 13, 2009

OzFlix Flm Festival- Toronto- Feb 13-16

Nothing to do this family weekend? Why not attend a screening of an Australia Film? Some of the proceeds will go to the Australian Red Cross in support of the Bushfire Relief Fund.

Visit for more info.

Left-Brain vs. Right Brain- an inspirational Youtube Video

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Aussiest Bushfire Rescue Photo

Despite this encouraging photo, the loss of human life is truly staggering. Over 170 have lost their lives so far, and the toll continues to climb.

Those left behind will be adversely affected, both in loss of property, but also there will be deep psychological wounds too.

The link below has information for donating to the disaster victims.

Here is the video captured my the CFA Firefighters when they came across the Koala.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dead of Winter / Happy Australia Day / Global Warming?

So here it is, late January and we've had way more than the average amount of snow and the temperature is well below normal. The Toronto area gets about 1.5 metres of snow in the winter season (Dec-March) and we've already passed the 2 metre mark in snowfall. We normally get a January thaw (OK- we had one in December when the first metre of snow melted). Daytime highs are usually around -1℃ but we've not gone much above -10℃ in the last 4 weeks, with Friday's +4℃ the exception.
Global Warming? I think not. But I need not complain. Our Western Canadian counterparts are in bone chilling -30℃ temperatures and even below that. Can you say, "Ice fog?"

I shall wish my Australia friends a Happy Australia Day, wherever you are- on the beach, at a BBQ, surfing, bushwalking, praying for rain.

Meanwhile, I shall test my new 30" snowshoes in the -20℃ windchills this afternoon.