About newdadat40

I am in my 16th year of education. I currently serve as Education Administrator at the State Training School for Boys in Eldora, IA. My wife and I married in October 2011. We have a daughter, who was born four weeks early. I am a new Dad at 40!

Historial Role Play in Second Life

As I was looking through different searches in Google and in Second Life, I came across several role play locations from points in history.  I felt this would be a good tour for teachers of history, the students can experience a little about a period of time and location.

While I was searching, I came across several locations that were not appropriate due to adult content.  There are many more, and I would encourage history teachers to look to find appropriate locations…or what the heck, create your own.

Here are my historical role play locations….

1. WWII Role Play – This location is specific to World War II combat in the European theater with a focus on tank combat.  Tank combat really came into its own during World War II.

2. The 1920s Berlin Project – This location can help you experience life in Germany after WWI under the Weimar Republic.  It would be interesting to see how the Nazis could come to power in this society.

3. Paris 1900 – This location gives you a look at life in Paris around the turn of the 20th Century.  There are many interesting historical landmarks to visit.  The Eiffel Tower was brand new at this time.

4.  5 Points – New York AD 1850 – This location takes you to the early Gangs of New York, where the new immigrants came to stake their claim to the American Dream….ending up in warring gangs.  This is the location the movie Gangs of New York is based on.

5. Salt Lake City, Utah – 1870 – This location is meant to give people the old west experience.  The role play wants the player to learn about life on the Savage Frontier just as the settlers learned about the hardships.

6. Ville d’Aquitaine – This location is all about experiencing the 1770’s in a French village.  This is a time before the French Revolution.  It might interesting to see if students can find precipitating factors for the Revolution that is just around the corner.

7. US Holocaust Memorial Museum – This is definitely a place to have students studying World War II visit.  The reason it is on this tour is students can witness Kristallnacht, which occurred in 1938.  This is really the starting of Hitler’s plan to rid German territories of Jews.  A sad night in history!

8.  Renaissance Island – This location allows students to experience life in “Merry Olde England” at the time of Henry VIII.  Just be careful to avoid making the old King angry, he has the habit of getting rid of people who don’t give him what he wants.

9.  AVG Airfield: Flying Tigers – This location is meant to role play war aviation.  The mission of this location is to honor all veterans.  Students can learn how to battle for the skies.

10. Chateau de Versailles – This location can help students experience life in the Court of Louis XVI & Marie-Antoinette.  See the beautiful home and grounds.  Learn how life at Court was out of touch with the ordinary people.

Enjoy your tour…


A Second Life Tour

As part of an assignment to learn more about what Second Life has to offer.  I ventured far and wide.  Here are some photos from neat locations in Second Life

This takes me back to North Grand Mall in Ames

A Chance to See the Solar System up close

My wife thinks Europe would be a great location for a “real” honeymoon. Sites like this make me agree, because she didn’t think Second Life would cut it!

Dramatic Place to here the stories. I will use it as a starting point to develop my own tour of WW II archives.

This is a great organization that helps people in need!

These are only a few snapshots.  I can see how a person could spend hours and hours looking through the sites.

On to my own quest….

Changing the Look in Second Life





I had a lot of fun changing my look.  It is neat to change all the features of the beginning avatar.  I added hair and goatee since I don’t have that, I guess in real life I am destined to be bald.  In Second Life, I can make myself into whatever I want.  I can’t help but wonder if some people present themselves dramatically different from their real self.  That is the beauty of the virtual world.

Learning How Second Life Works

I checked out Lionheart Orientation Island, and found it very helpful.  Walking through the orientation screens helped me understand how to do different things in Second Life (http://secondlife.com).  It was also interesting to figure out how Second Life makes money.  A program this expansive costs a lot of money to keep running, regardless if users are involved.  I realize you can upgrade to the premium version and have different features, but also the function to purchase money to use to add items to your character and virtual life.  This guy has a hard time spending money on virtual stuff, but I guess I need to remember that I pay for other forms of entertainment.  I do see Second Life having the potential to be addictive, and could cost people money.  Really that is the case with pretty much everything.

Another thing I noticed was that some of the orientation actions were not in the places they indicated.  I believe either the orientation was not up-to-date or I need to change some configuration settings.  Regardless, I was able to find the appropriate menus, and complete the actions.

All in all, I had a lot of fun navigating through Second Life.  I can see how something like this can be very engaging for students.

Starting Second Life

 As part of Emerging Instructional Technology, we are learning about the virtual world called Second Life (http://secondlife.com).  I am definitely a novice in this arena.  I have never really done anything with virtual worlds.  I have gone to SecondLife, and created my profile.  I have done a little bit of exploring.  I have to say I am overwhelmed at the shear magnitude of it all.  We had a short demonstration in class, but creating my own character there is so much more.  I am excited to learn about this virtual world.

At the same time, I am overwhelmed.  There is so much!  I am apprehensive when it comes to virtual worlds.  I guess I am old school, and really prefer meeting people face-to-face.  Through my work, I get a little paranoid about people’s predatory motivations.  This is especially true when I think about my daughter.

However, I need to look at this as a learning opportunity.  Part of the reason for taking the class was to push my thinking and learning about technology in the classroom.  I promise to keep an open mind, and look forward to learning something new.


Gaming to Learn

Part of Emerging Instructional Technologies was to look at gaming as a learning activity.  I played a game called Flood Sim.  Flood Sim is a free online game that forces you to make decisions about flood policies and spending in the UK for 3 years.  You are either the hero or villan or both.

I played Flood Sim for a couple of rounds. I enjoyed the game, and while I did not start out very well, I improved the more times I played. For some reason the game reminded me of an old IntelIivision game I played years ago called Utopia.  This was a game to develop a small island by supporting a population and making money.  While this game was different it still brought back memories of the hours spent playing the game.

The game was filled with choices and you learned through failure. Feedback was given after each year, but you only got three years. (Maybe that is considering the length of a government before election in Britain.) This game could be played in several classes to teach a variety of concepts.  Government and Environmental Science are two classes that I can see potential.  I can see students working together to make decisions to try to prevent flood losses.

While I enjoyed the game, I could see some drawbacks that kept me from getting engrossed in the game.  I had to remind myself that it was FREE.  First sometime was spent trying to get it to load, and some verbal elements worked and some did not.  The instructions were vague, but I learned through playing a couple of times.  Finally, I did not like that the game had only three rounds.

All in all, I believe this game is worth using as part of a curriculum.




Our imaginary class:  Our class is a mixed group of middle level 7th and 8th grade students in a language arts classroom. There are 32 students in two sections for a total of 12 7th grade students and 20 8th grade students.These students have access to 30 laptop computers and 25 iPads that are stored in the computer lab. Our school is a small parochial school located in Cedar Falls, Iowa. We have a broad range of income levels and social and cultural backgrounds among our student population. These students have had many opportunities to use technology in their school work from as early as kindergarten, they are very techno savvy. These students have expressed an interest in creating a student newspaper.

The project: The project will be to use resources to develop an online newspaper.  This newspaper will include both local school and community, but can involve all the other components of an e-newspaper.  This will be a cross curricular project: involving the Language Arts, Social Studies, Technology, Art , and possibly Foreign Language classrooms. There are other possibilities for integration of other subject areas as the project develops.

This project will give students a chance to improve their reading and writing skills through a global audience of their peers. Students will learn about the political and social aspects of other cultures and learn more about their own community through writing and  teaching others.

There can also be a foreign language aspect to the project by having students write at least one story  in the language they are studying. The partner school would then edit and critique the story. The partner school would write one story in English and we would edit and critique their writing.

Our goal: Provide students a chance to voice their opinions and ideas about community and world events through modern day e-journalism. Learn concepts of writing different types of news stories such as opinion, editorial, informational, political. Learn about other parts of the world from the perspective of their peers. In the process of creating their online newspaper they will also learn how to use the technology required to create a finished project, concepts of layout and design of their paper and depending on their partner school a chance to practice writing in the foreign language they are studying.

Challenges: We see the most challenging barrier for this project will be finding schools to partner with on this project. Also the time frame of the project could be a problem since not all schools run on the same schedule that we do here  in the United States. The project would have to span more than one school year which could become a problem as staff and administration changes  affect the ability or desire of a partner school to continue the project.

Change in Students’ Perceptions: Students will have the opportunity to  see that some issues are the same for middle level students no matter where you are in the world. They can learn about life styles and traditions of other cultures from their age perspective. Students would also have an opportunity to ask questions about larger world topics to see how interpretations are the same and different.

Resource: http://pulitzercenter.org/blog/news-points/youth-connected-technology-and-journalism-shape-world-views

My partner: Sandra Steinfadt http://sandrasaha.blogspot.com/

I had dinner, I went to the store, I did…

Well, my wife and daughter went to see Grandma and Grandpa.  I have had a chance to do some catching up.  It is amazing that working full time, taking a class, and most importantly being a new Dad…I barely have time to check facebook!

Enough of my complaining….my little girl is precious and 4 weeks old today!

I found a book in our library the other day, Go Tweet Yourself.  I picked it up and skimmed it a little.  It is a funny parody of social media.  You can find more information at http://www.gotweetyourselfbook.com/.  It is worth a little laugh.

I do find some truth in the humor.  I sometimes think sometimes we get caught up in sharing every little detail about our lives.  I am pretty sure no one really cares what I had for breakfast this morning, but I posted something about it a couple of weeks ago (mostly because my wife lost the bet about the gender of our child, and now she makes me breakfast every Saturday!).  It makes me do a little thinking as I am developing my personal learning network (PLN).

As educators, we need to be cautious about our postings: potential employers, parents, students, and colleagues are looking.  However, that doesn’t mean we cannot get on social media.  We can use it to our advantage.  I used to be one of those educators who was caught up in all the bad of social media, and felt educators should never friend students.  But I came across this blog post on http://dangerouslyirrelevant.org/, and it hit me.  We need to be able to friend students, but make sure there are some boundaries. http://dangerouslyirrelevant.org/2012/09/an-interesting-solution-to-the-friending-students-on-facebook-dilemma.html#comments.

I wonder what my colleagues think…enjoy the day!

A little frightening…

Our daughter was born with a heart murmur.  Today, we visited the pediatric cardiologist.  I think we had the first doctor who frightened us a little bit about her condition.  He still believes it will resolve itself, but he wants to watch a little more closely.  So we had a chest x-ray, EKG, and electrocardiogram.  What amazing technology.

In reading Disrupting Class, the authors talked about virtual science labs.  In my mind, I always thought about chemistry experiments.  As I was sitting watch the screen of my daughter’s heart.  I thought about biology and anatomy & physiology.  This is so much better than a picture.  The program could show different so many different parts inside us and give comparison and contrast of healthy and unhealthy conditions.  I am curious if anyone has comments about this idea.  It was my aha moment in a stressful day.

Just about 3 weeks ago…

Our new family!

On Saturday, August 25, 2012…I became a Dad!!  I just turned 40 fifteen days earlier.

Our daughter is a month premature, but is doing well.  There are some health concerns that the doctors are paying attention too, but they feel she is strong.

I am getting used to fatherhood.  I have to say I am learning to thrive on a few hours sleep at a time.  Diaper changing duty isn’t all that bad (most of the time).  Of course the fun is seeing her change each day.  She has a really good temperment, but she doesn’t like “tummy time” she works and works to turn on her back.  She is a smart girl if I do say so myself.

The purpose of my blog is to reflect on being a father for the first time after working as an educator for 16 years.  I have started to reflect on what I want for my daughter, and what type of teachers I want her to have.  Ironically, those decisions are already beginning.  The community we live in has waiting lists already at two pre-schools.  I wonder how pre-school will look in four years.  What role will technology play?  Will new options be available?  How will the curriculum look different than now?  So many questions are floating in my brain…