Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ireland - Day 4

Day 4 of my Ireland adventure began with what was described as "a brief walk." I assumed I would have a casual stroll through a park. What ended up happening was a 3 hour hike. I was not prepared for a hike and was a little put off because I didn't have my sunblock, water, hiking shoes, etc.

The hike was through the Kilarney National Park and although I was a little miffed, I still enjoyed the hike.

The mascot of the day was sheep. As we hiked, there were a variety of sheep wandering through the rolling hills and we even saw a demonstration of a shepherd as he tried to round up his sheet. I was amazed at his ability to command his sheep dog from a considerable distance away.

At the beginning of the hike I came across this interesting spider web with dew still trapped in it. I have never seen such a sight before. Pretty incredible stuff.

After the hike our tour guide had arranged an official sheep herding visit. The wife of the rancher explained that the price of wool was practically worthless and so to make ends meet the family decided to allow tourists to visit and see demonstrations of sheep herding.

This sheep dog was incredible and we were all really impressed with her skills.

As the day progressed and we contiuned our journey around the Dingle Peninsula we saw even more sheep.

That night we stayed in Portmagee a town so small that they don't have an ATM.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ireland - Day 3

Day 3 of my adventure tour had us driving to the town of Glengarriff. The day was overcast and rained on and off. We were warned to bring waterproof clothing especially for a day like this. I was ill prepared, but I did have an umbrella, which helped a little bit.

In Glengarriff we took a lovely walk to see the coast.

After the little hike we drove a little farther to participate in some lake sports: kayaking and canoeing. I opted for canoeing and was pared up with the 10-year-old from Abu Dhabi. We were ill matched due to our strength and size, it took all I could muster to keep us from tipping over. We had fun, but didn't venture out to see the seals because I was afraid I wouldn't have the strength to row us back to the dock.

Lunch was eaten at McCarthy's bar where we enjoyed some warm soup and sandwhiches.

After lunch we continued to drove around the Beara Peninsula and went to see the ruins of Dunboy Castle.

The final stop before heading to our hotel that evening was to see the stone circle of Uragh. Our tour director described it as "a little smaller than Stonehedge". That was an undestatement. I noticed throughout our trip that our guides descriptions of things were underplayed. As you can tell from the picture below, the stone circle was not that impressive.

We spent the evening in the town of Kenmare and we were treated to hear the music stylings of Michael O'Brien, described as the "Alice Cooper of the steelbox accordian." He was amazing. Sorry for the poor picture, but there wasn't much light in the bar.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ireland - Day 2

On Day 2 of my adventure in Ireland I joined the "To The Edge of the World Tour" with Vagabond Tour Group. Vagabond caps its tours to 13 people and uses a Land Rover to leave the beaten path. On the tour there was a family of four (mom and three kids) from Abu Dhabi, a couple from San Francisco and three married couples from Alabama. Our tour director was also the owner of the company. He was with us for two days before a new tour guy joined our group. The group was lots of fun and certainly made the trip exciting.

We spent a good portion of our first day driving, although it was broken up with a variety of stops until we reached the charming little village of Gougane Barra.

First stop was at the ruins at Dunamase Castle.

Rock of Cashel - where St. Patrick baptised the first Irish man.

Blarney Castle, where I was able to kiss the Blarney stone.

The view from the hotel at Gougane Barra, talk about gorgeous.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

First Two Weeks of School

It might not come as a big surprise to you, but I have switched schools yet again this year and I am teaching at another technical academy in the southwest part of Vegas. The school is Southwest Career and Technical Academy.

The school is very similar to the one I taught last year, but the campus is incredibly different. The program areas are all broken up into different buildings and it definitely has the feel of a college campus (only smaller). I teach in the Design academy (majors include: web design, video game design, entertainment engineering, fashion and interior design, broadcast communication and film studies).

I don't know my students incredibly well yet, but I enjoy their quirky sense of humor and their general enthusiasm. I am teaching 6 sections of world history (2 AP classes, 2 honors classes and 2 regular) with about 190 students. I love my classroom, it has tons of natural light and I even got a SMART board this year. It works like a big computer screen and so I can surf the internet with the students and do other fun stuff with it. I need to get some training on the board this year so I can fully utilize its abilities in my classroom.

I spent a good two weeks getting my classroom set up this year and I am glad that I gave it the TLC that it needed. Everything is organized and well-situated. I have been able to successfully keep my desk clean this year, all my grading is caught up and I even have my lesson plans written in advance. My goal is to keep this momentum up so that I can always feel I am on top of the work, instead of drowning in it.

In two weeks the principal is taking a group of the new teachers to San Diego for a day to check out High Tech High, a school she would like us to model ours after. My friend Julie went last year and was really inspired what what they are doing with their students. I love getting the opportunity to grow and be challenged and I am really looking forward to this trip.

The other big school related news is that I have decided to work towards my National Board Certification this year. It is the highest certification a teacher can get in the United States. There are only 210 teachers in Clark County and 2% of the teachers in the nation with this honor. I have been to a couple of the trainings so far and it will be a daunting task, but because I am so organized this year and with doing a little bit at a time, I think I can get my rough draft portfolios completed before winter break. There are 10 portions to the application process; 4 portfolios and 6 tests.

There are four other social studies teachers that I am friends with in the district that are also planning on working on their certification as well, so it will be nice to have some support from colleagues.

I will take some pictures of my classroom this week and get them posted so you can see where I work. I am excited for what is in store of the rest of the school year.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sand Art? Who Knew!

I don't spend a lot of time watching youtube clips, but this one I recently saw and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.

This is from Ukraine's You've Got Talent and the woman is creating sand art depicting scenes from WWII. Watch and enjoy!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ireland - Day 1

After my exhilarating two-weeks in Germany I decided to venture off and visit Ireland. I had originally planned on going to Prague, but in the end I felt like I needed to spend some time in nature and away from big crowds.

I flew into Dublin early on Saturday morning the 26th of June and by the time I got to my hotel and settled in I was exhausted. It didn't help that I had to wake at 4:00 in the morning to catch the shuttle to the airport outside of Frankfurt.

I took a brief walking tour of Trinity college and around the center of Dublin. I had intended on seeing more of the city but I was exhausted and there were so many people in town that I decided to retire early and just watch a little football. Plus, I was leaving the city early the next day for my big adventure tour.

Entrance to Trinity College.

Main courtyard at Trinity College.

One of the many, many pubs in Dublin.

The big event while I was there was the extensive Gay Pride Parade. In fact, the weekend before I saw the Gay Pride Parade in Berlin.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Final Germany Pictures - Day 13

I know it has taken me forever to finish editing my Germany pictures, but I am finally finished. Next step will be to work on the 400 images from Ireland. The goal is to have them done before my big move at the end of September.

Although I spent some additional time in Germany after my journey to Ireland, these pictures represent the final Germany images I took.

Our last full day took us to the city of Mainz which was beautiful. We visited the cathedral, a Catholic library and met some children, the Gutenberg Museum and then we took a gorgeous river boat tour of the Rhine river. It was stunning.

Replica of an old printing press at the Gutenberg Museum.

Courtyard of the Cathedral in Mainz

Our tour leader kept saying "nothing more quintessentially German than the flag, the Rhine and castles" while we were cruising.

It was an incredibly sunny day on the river--but I loved it anyway.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Day 12 - Frankfurt

Frankfurt was the only city in Germany I have been to before. With this batch of pictures I wanted to apply some different effects. Enjoy!

There was a wedding downtown and I couldn't resist the picture.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Day 11 - Herne/Dusseldorf

Day 11 was a very relaxed day where we watched another football match and visited a company that provides technology to schools (videos, programming and other media). The pictures above are of their facilities. I was impressed with how sophisticated their setup was and I thought it would have been fun to work there.

Late this afternoon we took our final train ride to our last stop, Frankfurt.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Day 10 - Duisburg/Koln

On Day 10 we visited more government offices and had additional meetings (something we did most days on the trip). However because of some extra time we opted to take an unscheduled visit down to Koln to see the famous Cathedral.

When exiting the train station the cathedral is immediately to the left. It is a massive building and I wasn't able to get a picture of the entire building. In the pictures below you can see a portion of the cathedral.

Remains of a wall built by the Romans. Koln was as far north as the Romans ever got in the conquests during their Imperial reign.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Day 9 - Essen

After leaving Berlin we took a train to the western part of Germany to the Ruir region. It is the 2010 European Capital of Culture. This region of Germany is very industrial and not as beautiful as the other parts we visited, however we saw some interesting coal, architectural, and art museums.