Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My computer has a first name.. it's F-A-S-T-E-R

When I encounter cool things on the internet, I always want to try them out. Many times, it required me to download and install software that bogged down the speed of my computer.  However, I have found one tool that is totally net based that I am now a new fan of.  Call me a convert!

It is called Best4c.  Basically, you register with this site and then you can make any type of chart online without having to install ONE THING on your computer! WOOHOOO!!!  Within 20 min I had created this...


Westest Reading Process


It is basically the same thing as Thinking Maps, but without the huge purchase OR the software!  Once I saved my product, it produced it as a jpeg for me to link to or to download.  I AM IN LOVE!  The toolbar along the top and sides reminds me of Microsoft Word and Powerpoint all rolled into one.  Just click on a shape, move your mouse to where you want it, and click.



Monday, April 28, 2008

You gotta know when to hold them.. know when to fold them..

WESTEST will be thrust upon the masses in a matter of mere weeks, and in the final days before this momenumental task we must begin the proverbial all nighter of elementary education.  Outside of the realm of teaching, a little known fact that has a monstrous effect on student achievement is one's ability to actually TAKE the test.  Yes, we can all swing from the highest branches of blooms tree and could pour our knowledge content into a pond of facts and figures, but to actually transverse the test is a feat all upon it's own. 


There will be some that have prepared their students for content as well as test prep, but many of us will fall short in the identification of the types of questions students will encounter on this behemoth of a test.

In order to help those of us who need that extra push across the finish line, I added a segment to my TrainerTV called WESTEST PREP.  Here you can allow your students to watch short video clips on what to do when you encounter a question, way before you begin to draw upon content to answer it.  Check it out!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I have been very worried about the status of whether or not teachers will vote to go back to the old retirment system.  I am looking at a HUGE increase if we vote to go back to the old (TRS) as opposed to staying in the new (TDC).  I want to make sure people are as educated as they can POSSIBLY BE before they decide.

One of the biggest sticking points I am hearing is people saying "I don't have the money to buy back my years."  I am right there with you on that, because the least I would have to pay would be $6700 and the most would be $11000.  I am a teacher, and I do not have that kind of money either!  A dear friend of mine also brought up a good point... "why give the state more of my money by taking the loan out through them?"  I agree with that too, because I was one of the ones that were not given a choice and simply dumped in this fiasco of a system.

I had an idea and researched it out a little bit.  Think about this.

Let's pretend that you are going to have to pay 11,000 to buy back your years of service.  You have five years to pay that off.  If you use the Quicken calculator on REALTOR.COM and put in $11,000 for a five year term borrowing at 7% interest, your monthly payments will be $217 dollars.  So your repayment of that $11,000 is going to be $217 a month. 

Scenario 1
If you were to purchase an annuity or something else on your own, and put in $217 a month to that annuity, you could benefit off of your OWN money. Don't buy back your years, but put that monthly payment towards something for your OWN retirement.

Here is what could happen.

If you are 40, and continue to pay 217 a month until age 62, and you get a 3% interest rate on that annuity (or roth or whatever), you will have $96,569 in that account!  (check it out at this site...http://www.econedlink.org/interactives/interest.html )  You can adjust your beginning age but the calculator takes it all the way to 62.  You cannot adjust the ending age.


Let's say you cannot put away $217 a month UNTIL AGE 62.  Let's say you want to be more realistic and you are willing to pay $217 a month for the five years you would pay normally if you decided to go back.  But remember, you do not want to give the state any more money than you already have!  So get an annuity that will allow you to deposit that $11,000 you would paying back to the state and then simply draw interest until you are ready to touch it.  If you were to put $11,000 in the bank and collect interest off of it,  You would end up with $17,600 in 20 years!  You can check this out at http://www.econedlink.org/lessons/em377/popupActivity.html


Now... when entering the website where you can actually look at your retirement calculations.. https://www.benefitmodeling.com/wv/chooseyourplan

Click on MODELING on the left hand side menu.  You can adjust your retirement age.  Your annual increase in pay is estimated to be around 3%.  YOUR RATE OF RETURN WILL PROBABLY BE AVERAGE AT 2 to 2.5%.  YOU MUST CHANGE this default before you can go on. Click the agreement button at the bottom of the screen and then click on GENERATE ESTIMATE RESULTS.





You can play with the numbers, but you will see that you will always come up with MORE MONEY IN THE END if you go back to the old system!  I encourage you to change the rate of return...  PLEASE!!!

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DECIDE TO BUY BACK FOR ANOTHER YEAR!!!!  However, you DO have to decide to go back now. PLEASE GO BACK!!!!

Monday, April 21, 2008


I just redid my projections based on a 3% salary increase and a 2.5% rate of return on my retirement in the new system.  Based on those predictions, IT IS A TWO THOUSAND DOLLAR DIFFERENCE in what I will bring home!  I will bring home two thousand more a month if I transfer back into the old system.

Guys PLEASE look at your retirement and think about switching back.  This makes me SICK to think that there are people who are looking at the front end of transfering back, saying to themselves "well I don't like the idea I am giving them ALL of what I earned.... I feel like I have to buy back my time or else I am wasting it.... (YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BUY IT BACK!!!)  What you will get back in the old system far outweighs what you will get in the new system.  PLEASE CONSIDER IT!!!


Also, please pass this on to other people so that they can make an informed decision.

RETIREMENT - correction factor

I was right about projecting the 3% increase in pay.  However, I was a little too optomistic putting in a 5% rate of return.  A very dear friend corrected me and said it is actually better to put a 2% rate of return.  (More likely senario.)

Let me know if I need to change anything else!

Friday, April 18, 2008


Go to this site and register... and then you will see what your benefit modeling will be!!




Remember... average is going to be a 3% salary increase and 7% is HIGH for a rate of return.  I did mine with a 5% rate of return.  CHECK IT OUT!!!  You have to change this info... then see the benefits.. and then at the bottom you have to check off that you realize this is just a projection and then ask to see the overall projection.  Everyone that I know that has done it makes at least 1000 more in the old sytem than if they stay in the new.



Thursday, April 17, 2008

Why you sneaky little moth...

Ok.  Everyone knows I love a good prank.  I wish I had time to tell you some of the things I have done to entertain people in the past.  However, I can point fellow geek masters or conspiracy theorists into the direction that will satisfy that carnal drive for the ultimate laugh.


Visit the SPY MUSEUM online store or check out thinkgeek.com to purchase those gadgets that will either allow you to feel safe in your own little world or let you branch out to irritate someone else's existence.  I happen to LOVE the ninja remote.  I am purchasing it as we speak.


Have fun and be safe!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


High school students have the opportunity to become a part of history in the making.


Do you know cool this is?  I will help whatever high school students would like to take part in this adventure.  Let's DO IT!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cool Uses for Gcast

Remember me telling you about gcast?  It is a free way to post verbal news on your website.  You can check it out on my initial school page.

Well now that I am a gcast convert I wanted to show you other ways that it could be used.  Also, if you are a teacher in Mercer County from grades 3 - 5, you may want to use this site.

Our Multimedia site has a section at the bottom where a parent (or a student) can click on their grade level and then choose the story they are working on in their classroom presently.  When they click post, and click on their story, they can listen to the story being read aloud.  You could work on student fluency by having them read along with the story.

For parents, they can have their child listen to the story being read aloud BEFORE they have them read the story to them.  In addition, for those children who need acceleration, you can build their background knowlege by having them listen to the story before the classroom instruction begins.

Cool huh?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Aren't our children more important than that?

I went to check out www.familywatchdog.com because my school got a new list of sexual offenders for our area.  This site said that I must pay to use the site.  I thought that surely I must have gotten the website wrong when I typed it, so I decided to try again.  I even tried a dot org situation, and I STILL found that I must pay to view.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!???! Is it necessary to charge me to view those individuals that could endanger my own son?  Needless to say, I AM NOT HAPPY.

 I found a place where you can still search for FREE.  (aren't all our children important enough to protect than just those that can afford a 10 dollar fee?)

It's the state police site.


You can just enter the zipcode and see a complete listing of those people in an area.  You may not see a map of where these individual lives, but you can search and see in Google maps exactly where they live.


Protect your children.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Can I just say Google rocks?  I love all things google. I love to use google as a verb, a noun, and as the name of my firstborn.  Truly, if google had been around at that time, I would be taking GOOGLE MUTTERBACK to soccer this evening.

Google Sky.

You can scroll in and out, choose different constellations to look at, and basically create your own planetarium. 


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I need your opinion.

I created this two min video about gcast... and I need to know if it makes sense.


Please leave me a comment and tell me what you think.

Monday, April 7, 2008


OK.. so I refuse to buy antivirus for my school laptop because I feel like if it is important then it should be provided to me.  So I have been wasting away with the big pink elephant AVG that runs like a dinosaur and bogs me down.  Put it this way.. if the meteor was coming, my computer would take the hit.

So I was searching for free antivirus for someone else and came across this.


I became so interested in it I got it for myself.  I will have to admit my computer has taken on this new vigor and jumped up from it's dead slumber to actually MOVE like it used to do.  I think I am in love. If you need free antivirus, check it out.  It debuted in Feb of 2008.

Enter my new contest!!!

I brought a heating pad to work because my ankle is still on the fritz. (For those of you who do not know, I played a game of full contact croquet and stepped in a divet. I am currently waiting to hear the results of my x-ray.)

But I digress. I could not get the heating pad to stay around my ankle, and in my quest to eliminate pain, a new game was born.



What is the most creative use you have come up with a 2 foot ethernet cord?

We all know those pesky cords.  Who thought 2 feet would ever be good for anything?  Well now is your chance to show exactly what 2 feet can do!

Submit your photos to me via email along with a little write up and I will post all of my winners!


Sunday, April 6, 2008

I have set up shop.

Think my shirts are funny?
Then visit my site. You can purchase them all!


Click on my logo to visit my store!

I cannot stop myself.

And the HITS keep on COMING.

Enjoy my creations, but remember... I CREATED THEM AND I WILL SUE YOU IF YOU TRY TO STEAL MY IDEAS.  I am not playing ANYMORE.  Consider this my taking my toys and leaving the sandbox moment.



I have lots of funny stories to tell about people and their computers.  But as I am bound by a code of ethics similiar to that of the attorney/client privilege, I must purge my incidentals in t-shirt format.  Just trust me when I say every one of these t-shirts I have created have come from real life AGGREVATION!

  For those of you unfamiliar with my job, I integrate technology into classroom's to promote 21st century learning.  I happen to know quite a bit about computers, making my skills invaluable to my position.   I receive a teacher's salary, and I am thankful for my state of the art job.    HOWEVER: I AM NOT PAID TO DO TEACHER'S PERSONAL WORK.  My job is strictly to affect change on student achievement.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Man now KNOWS your NAME...

I had to hurry and post that last post because I was so freaked out I wanted to try and catch Rachel before she left. 

There are five girls that I am proud to call friends.  They are the BRIGHTEST and BEST that West Virginia has to offer as far as technology integration is concerned.  I must admit that they are my inspirations, and some of my best work has piggybacked off of what they have already done.  (With full credit to you, onions!) I have Jozette Cooper, who is right beside me in the great county of Mercer.  She listens to me complain and is in the process of trying to help me to learn to LAY IT DOWN. (she knows what this means.) I then have Rachel Fletcher, who keeps the northern half of the state hopping with her knowledge and excellent pranks.  She is the smartest person I have ever met, and I think that she is the reincarnate of the late great Albert Einstein.  I dare you to duel her in a challenge of the minds.

You then move to Kanawha and find Angie Abbott, otherwise known as ABOOOOO.  She is the techy of all things techy, and I cannot tell you how many times I have come to her with a problem and she solved it immediately.  Rock on!

Angie Urling electrifies Lincoln County, and I am surprised she has not been moved to a county technology level position.  She embodies grace and spirit, and thinks on that grand level of schema that encompasses all the different levels of technology integration.  She has a way of taking something small and plugging it into so many different arenas that it takes on a life of its own.  Lincoln is LUCKY to have you!

I finish off with Karen Rollo, whose previous TIS job died a cruel death yet she keeps it real in a regular classroom.  She has the power to find humor in anything, and she is one of the ONLY people who can make me laugh no matter what my mood.  If you can ever attend a training session with ROLLO, you will come away from it with a renewed sense of not taking yourself too seriously. 

On so many levels, these girls far surpass my technology intellect and general ability.  For some reason, we all click so well - and they are my FFL.  My friend card will always be full, and no matter how much time goes by, I will always have them.

Rachel, Jozette, and Karen


Abooo, Me, and Url


Some say psychic... some say psycho...

Have you ever had one person who you were totally in sync with?

I am lucky in that I found a couple of people that I swear READ MY MIND.  In fact, I got a comment from someone about my shirt which I had created a new shirt about and just not posted it yet!!!

Rachel Fletcher told me I should put something about plugging in the printer and it magically being fixed.  Rachel, I had created this new shirt but the wordpress blogsite had changed a little and I could not figure out how to post the shirt just yet.


Rachel.... you are scaring me.  You forgot to tell me you were a mindreader!!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

TIS Wear



Anybody catch yesterday's show with Suzy Ormon? 


Of course, I emailed the show to give a shout out... and to offer my services into other free gadgets online that would make for some cool television.

HARPO - here I come!

I will vote for the candidate who gets gas down to $1.50

Until then, I have to find ways to stretch my few pennies into a living. 

I am all about finding a bargain, and I have my brother to thank for this latest little saver.

 Fat Wallet dot com.  Ever heard of it?

It is like Woot on Crack. (We all know I am a wooter!)  You can search for deals and bargains til your heart is content.  That is where I happened upon my Sprint Sero deal!

So until my candidate declares their intentions for president, I must keep finding the bargains online!