Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Canadian International School of Hong Kong whips up some first class definition poems!

So here I am in Borneo speaking at the EARCOS conference and who is sitting next to me but MS. C. from the Canadian International School in Hong Kong where Sara and I visited back in January. She showed me some poems her kids wrote after our visit there.

Well they absolutely rock – here scope them out!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Video from Tasmania School visit.

Video removed at request of principle of school

Too bad - the kids did excellent work

Mount Stuart Primary–Hobart, Tasmania
Here’s a short video from my and Sara’s visit to Hobart, Tasmania

Among the Taz maniacs!

Sara and I visited four schools in Hobart Tasmania. Each was a little different than the other but all were full of hard working kids and dedicated teachers. The thing that I’ll remember most was the classroom teachers jumping in during the workshops to make sure the kids were getting the most out of our visit there.
We worked on vocabulary, story structure, persuasive writing and public speaking skills as well as an after school session with teachers I told you they were dedicated.) Extra special thanks to Chris, both Margarets and Jill for helping to organize our visit down under. Here’s a selection of pics from our visit.

chris, margaret and sara

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The devil you know…

devilsbiteSo here we are in Tasmania the island state of Australia down and to the right of the main land mass. Sara and I survived another marathon travel day of something like 30 some hours from doorstep to doorstep. it might be more, but my jetlagged brain is being used for more important tasks than math right now – like equilibrium.

We finally got into Hobart Tasmania around 6pm local time which is precisely god knows what time or day back home. Our goal when we get overseas and the time change is twelve hours or more is to try and stay up past 8pm local time before we pass out. Well we accomplished this - this time and right now I am not feeling too bad. We start working in schools tomorrow – we came in a day early in order to acclimate but then, lucky for us, Monday is a a bank holiday – the Aussie equivalent of labor (Spelled labour here) day so we get an extra day to get our heads straight and I think we’re gonna be fine.

We wandered around the artsy section of town grabbing  a cup of coffee then walked around the wharf where we came across the Bob Barker – a big black ship with a skull and crossbones theme. I couldn’t guess why the Price is Right host might have such an intimidating vessel named after him in the Hobart Tasmania port so I assumed it was some other bloke.


Well, as it turned out the boat was named after the US Bob Barker – mainly because he paid for it. The Bob Barker is operated by Sea Shepherd – a group of environmental activists who use the ship to basically harass the living hell out of Japanese whalers hunting illegally in the protected Antarctic. barker had heard of their missions and being the animal loving dude that he is, donated six million dollars to the organization resulting in this boat, a helicopter and enough fuel to completely screw up this year’s whale hunt.  Sara and I toured the ship which had just returned from a successful three month stint.

As often happens on our excursions across the globe this was a bit of serendipity as was our walking into the tourist information and booking center a couple blocks away from the ship. We saw that a shuttle to a wildlife rehabilitation and refuge center was leaving in approximately thirty seconds. We quickly bought tickets and jumped into the van and were speeding at breakneck speeds across a bumpy Tasmanian road.


At the Bonorong Wildlife Park we really got up close and personal with the wildlife. My past experiences with Tasmanian devils at other zoos was to see a sleeping pile of fur with its back turned to me. But here the little buggers were running around, chewing on bits of wallaby and sniffing the air in agitation. Seems the females were in heat and the males were rather bothered by that. We also got to get right up to and pet some koalas and, were jostled by kangaroos in search of the kangaroo chow we were provided with at the entrance of the park.


After this we went back to the room and did a quick internet search for a place to grab dinner which resulted in a half mile walk and a wonderful lamb curry that rivaled any I have had up to this point. So – so far so good – Tasmania is treating us well and I can hardly wait to see what happens next.




As you can see this kangaroo is checking to see  what Sara has in her pouch.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pho better or verse

  Okay - Here we go again.
  Sara and I are hitting the road for three weeks. First off we start in Tasmania then we head north along the 140 degree longitude up to Kota Kinabalu, Borneo and then we end up in Hanoi, Vietnam.

I'll be trying to keep things up to date here.

Recently – like less than a week ago – we were working in Dallas visiting a school (see vid below.) It was a bit of a whirlwind trip – in and out in two days with lots of workshops with students and teachers alike. In order to be kinder and gentler to the schools budget we did not get a rental car on this trip.

This left our dinner options to whatever we could walk to. Well I have this nifty little app on my IPod touch called Yelp which uses the GPS in the device to scan for local whatevers – you can look for restaurants – businesses of any kind – local attractions. So I plugged in the word: Pho. Pho is a Vietnamese rice noodle soup that Sara and I have come to adopt as our out of town comfort food. It warms your belly and fills your soul with noodle-ishness.  Now the correct pronunciation of the word sound more like Feh than Foe – but it is almost never pronounced correctly here in the states and it isn’t worth the effort correcting folks who get it wrong so for the sake of expediency and the title pun of this post we’ll go with the American bastardization and call it Pho – (foe).

Anyway – I typed in the name of the soup and up popped Pho Chau Restaurant a mere .6 miles from our hotel. So we walked to the restaurant, enjoying the 70 degree weather while back home the mercury was looking up at the freezing mark. Well, we were not disappointed – the soup was good, so good we ate dinner there two nights in a row.

The first evening we were the only folks in the place sitting down – a busy carryout business was going on, we were kinda early birding it but the travel had given us an appetite.  Since we were the lone sit down customers the owner came by and began chatting with us. We told him we were headed to Hanoi soon and he told us his story of his escape from the country when he was just 14 years old 25 or so years earlier.

The saga was hair raising, involving smugglers, disappearing companions, traversing jungles at night, hiding in rainforests for two days waiting on a boat bound for Thailand and jumping from said boat and swimming to shore to become a refugee once off the coast Thailand.  Our host told us this harrowing tale with smile and “you do what you gotta do” aplomb.

Sara and I talked about this on the way back to our room. You know, you never really know what the person you’ve just met has been through. It’s so easy to get caught up in your own trials and tribulations – but no matter how bad you think you’ve got it there is someone nearby who has had it worse and is weathering through it with a better attitude.

Here’s my quote – feel free to cite me: “What is truly amazing about life is what we manage to survive.” To which I might add the addendum – “and even more astounding are the folks who persevere with a positive attitude and no extra sense of entitlement for their tribulations” but that’s a bit longwinded and didactic.

Okay – gotta pack my bags.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Lanier Elementary - Dallas, Texas

Sara and I did a quick trip to Texas at the end of last week to visit Sidney Lanier Elementary School in Dallas. We visited classrooms and also worked with the teachers in a PD session after school. This was all made possible by the energetic and smart school reading specialist Kia - who I first met last year at a conference I was speaking at in San Antonio - and her principle Mrs. Peraza.

Here's a short video from our visit.