Archive for May, 2011

WRAPPING UP IN NORWAY – ISfTE Seminar

Friday, May 20th, 2011

My week in Kristiansand, Norway is coming to an end.  I have been attending the International Society for Teacher Education seminar.  It has been an incredible personal and professional growth experience.  And I’ve met so many passionate professionals in the field of education.

Numerous teacher educators from around the world have gathered in Kristiansand to deliberate research, discuss pedagogical implications, and explore international collaborations and relationships.  It has been quite a privilege to be here and share the initial findings of my research with the Hocus Focus curriculum and it’s impact on the academic and functional learning of children with learning differences.  I have been welcomed and encouraged by this amazing group of people.  As a result of their input and expertise, I’ll be able to refine the data and rewrite the paper to prepare it for submission into one of the professional education journals.  But most importantly, I’ve made international connections and laid the foundation for friendships that I know will last a very long time.

If you had asked me 10 years ago, “Would you consider yourself an educator?” I doubt that I would have answered “yes.”  Today, because of the continued support that I am receiving from educators around the world with this project, I would definitely consider myself an “educator.”  Using simple magic tricks to engage children in the learning process is an exciting opportunity!

Yesterday, as a part of our “road trip” activities, different groups of teachers visited several Norway schools around the area.  My group visited the Hocus Pocus kindergarten (no, I’m not making that up).  It was a fascinating and insightful experience!

I’m off to the FARWELL DINNER to spend the last few hours with my new colleagues.  Tomorrow, Alan and I begin the adventure of returning to the U.S.  I’m looking forward to sleeping in my bed for a few weeks!

NATIONAL CONSTITUTION DAY – NORWAY 2011

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

I am in Kristiansand, Norway presenting at the International Society for Teacher Education seminar.  It’s been a great experience so far – meeting some interesting people from around the world and being exposed to different research in education.  The seminar took a little time “off” today to celebrate National Constitution Day.  In 1814, this was the day that Norway adopted its constitution.  There are celebrations, parades, concerts, and lots of food.  The day started early with the children’s parade and doesn’t wrap up until tonight at 11pm with the final “race to the waterfront” where there will be a concert and fireworks.

These are just a few of my pictures….enjoy (and I promise I’ll talk more about the seminar this week in another post).

KRISTIANSAND, NORWAY

Monday, May 16th, 2011

I have arrived in Kristiansand, Norway after a very exciting journey through several countries and way too many airports.  It’s good to be in one place for an extended length of time.  I’m here to present my research paper at the International Society for Teacher Education seminar.  It is being hosted at the University of Adger in Kristiansand.  It is a beautiful city filled with history and a charming historic district.  Tomorrow is Norwegian National Day and will be filled with parades, fireworks, and celebrations.  I’ll write more about that later but, for now, I’d like to share these pictures from around the city.

NORWAY ARRIVAL – HOORAY!

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

Four days and seven cancelled flights later, I have finally arrived in Norway!  I’m excited to be here and looking forward to presenting my current research paper, HOCUS FOCUS: THE ACADEMIC AND FUNCTIONAL BENEFITS OF INTEGRATING MAGIC TRICKS IN THE CLASSROOM. I am attending the International Society for Teacher Education seminar being hosted by the University of Ager in Kristiansand, Norway.  This is a great opportunity to have my research “peer-reviewed” and get it ready for publication in the education journals

Norway is a beautiful country and Kristiansand is a very quaint town on the water.  It’s cold here – only about 40 degrees F.  The average highs during May are 57 degrees F.  So I don’t think I’ll be walking down to the beach!

There is no snow on the ground (like in this picture) but it feels like it could snow outside!  And Norway is ridiculously expensive.  The McDonalds around the corner sells cheeseburgers for $12.50 US.  My taxi ride to the hotel last night – only about 1 mile – was $40US.  It’s a good thing meals are included with the conference!

IT’S ALWAYS AN ADVENTURE….

Friday, May 13th, 2011

After the performance in Stowe, we drove for 14 hours to get back to Virginia.  I was able to spend two nights sleeping in my bed before hitting the road again.  I was scheduled to make a research paper presentation on the Hocus Focus project at the International Society for Teacher Education seminar in Kristiansand, Norway.

Before Alan and I left the USA, we were told that some of our connecting flights had been cancelled but re-routing was being handled and everything would be okay.  We left Washington, DC Dulles International Airport and landed first in Frankfurt, Germany.  This was an easy flight with about a 3 hour layover to get some food and regroup before our next flight.  With nothing else in sight, we made our way to the McCafe and had breakfast.

After breakfast, we walked to our gate to catch our next flight to Russia (it was only a transfer flight).  I was excited about flying through Russia.  I’ve seen pictures and documentaries on television.  I always imagined it to be beautiful and mysterious….but all that could change.  On another note, I’m always amazed at the things you can see in an airport.  Take a look at this guy and tell me if you don’t think this is odd.

You see the handcuffs, right?  I couldn’t believe that he was sitting right across for us.  They let him board first – with his “people” – and then the rest of us boarded the plane.  We landed in one of the major airports where we remained stranded for about 2 days.  Our travel agent was making every attempt to work with Baltic Air – the airline that cancelled our flights and left us stranded – but they were completely uncooperative.  They offered no assistance at all and finally agreed to refund the money….which also did nothing to get us out of Russia.

Finally, our travel agent was able to secure a flight to Moscow where we would connect to a flight to Oslo, Norway and (finally) on to Kristiansand, Norway – the site of the conference.  When we arrived at the airport gate promptly at 5:30am, security refused to check us in.  As it turns out, flying through Moscow on a connection is not considered an “international flight” so we were required to have a “Transit Visa” – something we did not have.  We were informed by the airport manager that, if we were allowed to board the flight, we would be arrested and “detained” in immigration in Moscow for illegal entry.  We really didn’t want to take our chances on that one.  But with our Moscow flight cancelled, the remaining flights were also lost.  So, as I write this Alan and I are sitting in a coffee shop in the airport.  Could we be stuck in Russia for yet another day???

SPRUCE PEAK PAC – STOWE, VT

Friday, May 13th, 2011

We wrapped up our season in a beautiful venue, working with a great crew and an enthusiastic audience.  The Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center is a wonderful place.

David and his entire team work very hard to make things run smoothly.  Alan and I arrived early into Stowe for a few days of outreach activities.

We conducted a brief professional development presentation for a small group of special education teachers and therapists associated with the Stowe-Morrisville School District.  The following day we spent at Fletcher Allen Hospital’s Rehabilitation Department in Burlington, VT.  This is the largest hospital in Vermont and one of the most progressive in the region.  I conducted an in-service project training rehab therapists (recreation, occupational, physical, and speech therapists) in the concepts of “magic therapy” – using simple magic tricks in their treatment plans with clients to keep them motivated to do their therapy.  Lastly, on Friday morning, we conducted another professional development workshop for therapists at the Copley Hospital in Morrisville, VT.  Saturday night was the performance at Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center – what a great week!

WHERE HAVE I BEEN??

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

It has been almost two weeks since I’ve posted on the blog.  I apologize and for all of you who have been emailing, sending me Facebook messages, or tweeting me, thank you for continuing to stay connected with me.

Alan and I have been driving the truck across country.  As we wrapped up the tour in California, everyone caught a flight back to Virginia while Alan and I started the long drive.  We had a good time checking out the scenery through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.  Along the way there were some memorable moments and places to eat…including this unusual Chinese restaurant.

New York was our ultimate destination for this leg.  We left the truck in Buffalo, NY, rented a car, and drove to Burlington, Ontario (Canada).  I was scheduled to conduct a Continuing Education workshop at Joseph Brant Hospital for a group of rehabilitation therapists.  What a fun group of therapists!!

After the workshop, we drove back to Buffalo but decided to take a detour at the border and check out Niagra Falls.  I have to say we’ve become accustomed to the warmer temperatures on the Southwest so Canada was COLD…but the falls were beautiful.

Once we arrived in Buffalo, we picked up the truck and continued our drive to Vermont – our next destination.  We are making a return visit to the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center in Stowe, VT.  We were here in January for the opening week of events to capture the ski audience.  Now that the mountain is closed, we are here to do some outreach in the community and perform for the area residents.

It is very quiet in Stowe and the surrounding areas now that the tourists are gone.  We made a stop in Morrisville at The Bee’s Knees to grab a bite to eat while exploring.  The food was fantastic and the portions were HUGE.  This is my side order of fries!

Our first event in the Stowe community was with a group of Special Education teachers from the district.  We had a brief workshop to explore them to the concepts of the Hocus Focus project.  Now that the website has been redesigned and is up-to-date, there is a great deal of information and research to share with educators.  While the group was small, the meeting was very effective and the excitement that was generated was well worth the time.  And this morning, I was invited to sit in at the studio of WLVB for a live interview to talk about the Saturday night performance and the other events of the week.  I had a great time with Roland – fun interview!

Tomorrow morning, Alan and I will head to Fletcher Allen Hospital in Burlington, VT for a full day of Healing of Magic workshops and working with patients at the largest hospital in the state.  Cindy, Keith, and Chase also arrive tomorrow afternoon and I can’t wait to see my wife!  Being apart for this long is really tough on both of us!

On Friday morning, I’ll have another Healing of Magic workshop with the therapists at the Copley Hospital in Morrisville.  And on Saturday at 7pm is the performance at the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center on Stowe Mountain.  I’ll keep you posted!