Student Elections

Thomas Paine; a painting by Auguste Millière (...

Thomas Paine; a painting by Auguste Millière (1880), after an engraving by William Sharp after a portrait by George Romney (1792) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have worked in education for nearly 25 years, and during that time I have worked at several schools across the country.  These schools are located in different states such as Texas, Tennessee, Washington DC, Maryland, New Mexico, and California.  I have also attended schools in West Virginia, North Carolina, and California.  Even though these regions of the country tend to differ in political and educational policies, I have noticed one thing in common with these schools and educational policies when it comes to school elections for students, and I wanted to share a list of rules that most schools use in order to elect their student candidates.  Yes, I think there is something we can learn.

  1. Student candidates are given the same amount time to speak about what they would do to make the school a better place and community.
  2. Student candidates are not allowed to criticize other candidates or name call anyone in the administration, teaching staff, or student body.
  3. All religions, socioeconomic statuses, family styles, and gender identifications will be respected.
  4. Written advertisements are allowed in a certain style and must be posted in only certain areas.  There is a set limit that cannot be exceeded for advertising.  There is a clear limit on advertising that can not be exceeded.
  5. Favors of any kind are not allowed to be granted.  This includes personal favors and any act of giving that appears to be a gift to voters.
  6. The student voters are encouraged to discriminate between the candidates, but the candidates themselves are not allowed to express that opinion and/or difference.  Student voters are allowed to make up their mind for themselves.  They are respected as thinkers.
  7. There is a clear spending limit.  Excessive spending will not be tolerated and the principal will have to step in.  It is a reasonable limit that all candidates can attain at that school. Supplies are given to candidates for advertising.
  8. Student candidates are not allowed to campaign outside of school.
  9. False statements will be investigated by the administration and the teaching staff to clarify for the student body should there be a misunderstanding or teaching moment.

These are simply common sense approaches to elections in schools as per school communities coming together to solve problems with school elections.  We do this out of the love for our children; however, I think out of the love for our country that we could apply some of these rules.  I think that our democracy needs a firmer set of rules to insure a democracy exists for future generations and that the process intelligently elects a future leader.  What I am hearing today in our elections is scary to me, and I believe a press that is afraid to ask everyone one the same types of questions is an irresponsible press, and I also believe that when candidates resort to a senseless approach of name calling and exaggeration of policy that the American public is being manipulated.  And as for advertising, I don’t even know where to begin to discuss the inequity that exists in that “paid for by candidate and friends” time.

I believe that the United States of America is better than this, and I am still searching for common sense in our general elections.  I wonder what Thomas Paine would have written if he were still around.

July 2nd – John Adams – What a brilliant failure?

With great enthusiasm for the event and an accurate understanding for the significance of the event, John Adams wrote that the July 2, 1776 approval for independence would be celebrated for years to come.  Off by two simple days, many might call this a failure.  However, I tend to view this proclamation to his wife as a clear understanding of the times and a brilliant prediction.  I also think he continued on as a great reminder of what America would become.  I think he was successful.

So then why do we continue in education to look for the discrete facts and tiny moments to evaluate success?  Why are we so involved with demonstrable test taking and fact memorization?  Is that what the future world needs from its workforce?  Is that where innovation begins?  Is this what the world is going to remember?  Do your most successful leaders have 4.0 or higher?

I think we need to find ways to incorporate project based learning into the classroom.  I think we need to lessen the rigorous approach to test taking.  I think we need to design projects that increase skills that are defined by the workforce.  Finding the right answer, reaching a consensus on the right answer,  debating an approach, presenting the circumstances around that answer, and evaluating your success in communicating the answer are much better predictors of success.

So to my ISTE 2015 friends, I am sorry that I went to Philadelphia two weeks prior to the conference, and I was unable to participate in the demonstration of project based learning through technologies. You might call that a failure since I missed it by two weeks. However, as I am listening to the great presentations and feedback you gave on YouTube, I sense that I am a small part of a growing movement.  I predict one day we will have digital learning that analyzes skills rather than content and produces wonderful citizens rather than “know it alls”.  Ouch, Happy Independence Day!

Hour of Code

Although I have been busy with a new position in instructional design for online education at a community college, I want to continue to add educational technology posts at this site and keep you posted of great ideas out there.  As a part time developer of educational apps for the iPad and iPhone (iOS platform) and as a coder of Objective C, SpriteKit, Cocoa Touch, and many other Frameworks, it would not have been possible to have released my apps on the App Store at Apple without studying computer programming. There are many applications of computer programming in today’s world as you will see in the video.  I hope this Hour of Code Video inspires you to consider using their materials in your classroom or at the very least to promote these services to your students.

Designing Apps for Education

When I went into the field of educational technology full time, I knew I wanted to create, design, develop, troubleshoot, and release great learning modules for students and modern learners.  This past year I have had the great opportunity to hone my skills in iOS development for the iPad and the Iphone, and with the success of FIND CALCULATE COLOR, I see more apps on the horizon.  ( There is a free version that can be sampled should you want to try it out. )

Creating an App from design to production is a very rewarding experience, and with each new creation I am learning more about the design and development process and how the iOS apps can be harnessed for speed and the ultimate intuitive user experience.  Apple truly has a platform that allows a small business to thrive in a very competitive world or is it?

My apps are truly educationally focused first.  I don’t add Zombie’s for flair, and I try to meet a clear learning objective without trying to teach the entire curriculum.  I think there is much room for great educational apps that can be placed on the iPad growth within our educational systems.  I want to thank you for supporting Absolutely Learning this year.  It has made a world of difference to me and my personal attempt to put a positive stamp on this digital world.

An Instructional Design Specialist

Reflection on Washington DC, adventure no. 27 possibly


Each and everyone of us should have the opportunity to visit Washington DC in their lifetime. For me, I have had the opportunity to visit it many times. My wife and son say we need a new family vacation local, and that is in the making for next summer (maybe). For me though, the visit provides a time of reflection so here is a short list of observations, reflections, and opinions for the readers. Some are technical and even educational.

English: Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D. C.1. Thomas Jefferson is and will always be my favorite President. I was glad to find the all so timely and inspirational quote located in the basement of his memorial. “I am not afraid of new inventions or improvements . . . ” –Thomas Jefferson to Robert Fulton, 1810. ME 12:380. There is more to the quote, but he was clearly understanding of technological improvements in society and a great inventor also. Have you ever heard of the copying machine he created?

2. The FDR and the Martin Luther King Memorial also surround that waterfront walk, and they are beautiful, inspirational, and technological wonders. This is a must see for everyone, and I am sure there were some computer aided designs there too as some lines in both memorials are fabulously perfect.

3. My son, Dad, and I visited the Spy museum which is full of great uses of previous technologies. As I watched the cigarette gun, the umbrella dart shooter, the various bugs, and interestingly placed cameras I thought “I am sure students have hats with cameras and pens with microphones that record all sorts of interesting moments in your classrooms today. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY.”

4. I took a picture that made my son seem taller than the Washington Monument. He sure has grown. I will not place it here as he deserves his privacy; however, if you want to know where to take the picture I will send you the directions.


5. Hershey Park which is not too far from Washington DC will provide family fun at the park and cool chocolates at the end of English: Milton S. Hersheythe FREE MUSEUM TOUR. You will also find if you pay attention that he created the Milton Hershey School which is a caring community that opens new doors for children whose families could not otherwise afford it. We need more of this type of education in the United States. We need better public education, and more wealthy people who are willing to invest their earning into making the world a better place.


Gulf Coast League OriolesOh well, as the Baltimore Orioles continued to deliver the best baseball I have seen in years at the expense of the local Washington Nationals I figured it was time to leave. I thought DC was still BIRDLAND. O, How the Washington Post has changed!

Find Calculate Color, a math memory game for your iPad

Find Calculate ColorFIND CALCULATE COLOR is a math memory game that is designed to run on the iPad. In a grid of 48 tiles a user finds a number, calculates an equation, or chooses a color that will eliminate as many tiles on the board as possible. FIND CALCULATE COLOR is what it is. It is a math memory game.

There are four levels to explore and all levels produce random FINDS, CALCULATES, and COLORS. There is a easy level which can be demoed in the free version of Find Calculate Color. The Easy, Medium, Hard, and Equations levels are available in the purchased version, and by their names those levels are a bit more challenging. There are various versions of basic math and color choices, and the game generates random finds, equations, and color nodes. The game is very intuitive and simply requires the user to select by double tapping an answer or menu item. To play FIND CALCULATE COLOR a user needs to know his/her math facts and to have a good memory.

FIND CALCULATE COLOR is designed by Absolutely Learning and implements Objective C, Cocoa Touch and Sprite Kit animations to make the user interface more interactive and enjoyable. It is optimized for the iPad (iOS 7.1 versions and above).

FIND CALCULATE COLOR meets many math standards and learning strategies, but these Common Core State Standards are definitely implemented for grades 1 – 5.

Add and subtract within 20, demonstrating fluency for addition and subtraction within 10.

Fluently add and subtract within 20 using mental strategies.
Apply properties of operations as strategies to multiply and divide.

Fluently multiply and divide within 100.

Use the four operations with whole numbers to solve problems.