Thursday, December 31, 2009

1st Fulbright Conference

I had the opportunity to hang out with Jay and his class at Mofet today. Click the clip to see what class was like. Listen carefully at the 16 sec. mark. Yep, that's how I feel! While here, I note Israeli teachers are as susceptible to forgetting cell phones as American teachers are. So far, 2 cell phones have rung! On another note, it seems Catlin Gabel is not the only school trying to maximize student hours in school by scheduling trips during vacation time. The Israel Ministry of Education recently decided that all Israeli schools would no longer be allowed to send delegations abroad. This article from Haaretz says it all. This is actually a test post to see how video embeds....but I thought it would be a great way to introduce everybody to what I am actually doing in sunny, 68 degree Tel Aviv.

Creating castles is a bad idea

Yesterday, I observed a metaphor for why schools need to figure out how to teach using Social Networking tools. One of the biggest fears often expressed by educators explaining why they abhor tools such as Facebook is that they will have no control over what kids say/do outside of class. The only way for a teacher to monitor student interactions would be to have students "befriend" the teacher. Another fear is that Facebook interactions might be unquantifiable, that is, students couldn't receive a grade for online interactions/activities. Enough preface....back to the metaphor...
Pam and I were walking down a street in Tel Aviv. It was a charming neighborhood, looked pretty well off judging by the cars parked on the streets. We were strolling past a school which looked like every other Israeli school building we've ever seen. Drab color, high steel fence. As we approached a back, secluded corner of the school, we observed a young boy deep in conversation with a young girl. Both were probably 8th graders. The girl's mobile phone was on the bricks at the end of the steel fence. It was a spot where the steel ended and the bricks were higher. Upon seeing us, the boy hurried away. The girl calmly took her phone and began to climb around the steel fence, up and over the bricks. She had clearly done this before. "She's running," I commented to Pam. Was she afraid? Didn't look like it. Unsure of what she was going to do? Nope, she calmly walked away from the building down the street. In danger? Didn't look like it. She had her mobile phone and was still connected to her friends. She was still connected to the world. Engaged in her own exploration of the world, she was clearly passionate about pursuing what was important to her. I bet she shares her little field trip thoughts with her friends.

Today will be my first conference at Mofet. I look forward to sharing thoughts about technology with Israeli educators. Thinking outside the castle that is school and connecting kids with the world around them using the tools with which they are familiar seems more important than ever.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Saw two markets today, sort of a study in contrasts. We walked into Old Jaffa, a lovely stroll down the beach. After walking the hill which contains an area dedicated to horoscope-named streets, artist studios, and most of the tourists, we wandered down the hill, ending up in the Jaffa flea market. This place is Rummage reincarnated. There is a treasures area, kitchen, small electrical, every department is well-represented. It is as chaotic as rummage ever was, though, it did have an area under-represented at stalls selling everything from home-baked bread to fresh juice. The one overwhelming sense was that everything was full. Junk stalls were full to overflowing, food stalls had lines, and every restaurant was filled. Streets on the periphery were clogged with traffic. Noa's description of the Jaffa market is fun to read. The market serves people of all classes. On our walk home, we passed the new boutique Neve Tzedek Hotel. The maids invited us to look at one of the suites......which had been furnished with pieces gleaned from the flea market. Polished and cleaned up, the suite was one of the nicest we had ever seen.

And then we walked through the lower half of the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv. It makes every farmer's market I have ever seen in the US look like a kid's version. In contrast to the Jaffa market, everything was polished, orderly, new, and available in unbelievably bountiful qualities. Smells were separated which meant I could savor those I wanted, move on from those I chose to avoid. Pam's description is also interesting to read. The Carmel Market is a great advertisement for eating fresh every day! Enjoy the pictures!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Spent today wandering Tel Aviv. Found a lovely cafe for breakfast. The Israeli breakfast was two eggs, cream cheese, feta (fresh and delicious), bread, tahini, Greek salad, tuna salad, olives, butter, Nutella, and Capuccino. No wonder it took the better part of two hours to eat everything! Noa and Pam had Muesli with fresh fruit and honey. Then it was time to deal with mobile phones. One of our innkeepers, Serge took us under wing, navigated us to Dizengoff Center (a post all its own), where we purchased sim cards, plans, etc. After much computer theater (I helped the cell folks troubleshoot their hardware) we all had both temporary and permanent phone numbers. Afternoon walk was a lovely allee (Rothschild Street) filled with Bauhaus architecture. We discovered that to be a tree in Tel Aviv was no easy task. Only the fittest survive! On a side street, we found the ultimate in metallic trees, not so good at carbon dioxide producation, but certainly fascinating art.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sticking My Neck Out

The MS Faculty graciously and laboriously created this award. I am the latest recipient of the Stick-Your-Neck-Out award. I appreciate all of their good wishes and thoughts. One of the nice perks about teaching at Catlin Gabel is the free-flow of ideas. I sometimes feel as if I am throwing all the tools and tricks I have learned from colleagues into my work with kids. Taking risks is what we encourage kids to do, so participating in a Fulbright Research Project is in keeping with that spirit.

Packing continues apace and we are busier than Santa in terms of list-checking. We check not just twice, but have already checked our lists a gazillion times. Friends call to wish us well and offer help. We feel very well taken care of and are so appreciative of the community we call home. Enjoy the picture! Thanks to Pam for the fine photography!

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Today was a bit of a joke day. Jay added a Prime Minister meeting into our joint calendar. I quickly contacted my protocol guide who informed me of the dress code for such meetings. Quickly changed the packing list....then Jay lets me know he was just testing. I'm working on the payback....we'll see....