Muddling through the blogosphere

Wakelet Ambassador

November 3, 2019
by blogwalker

Riding the Wakelet Wave

Wakelet logo

When Edublogger Kathleen Morris blogs about and recommends a new tech tool, then I know it’s worth exploring. Last week, her post about Wakelet came through my Twitter feed. Thank you, Kathleen! I am definitely riding the #WakeletWave.

Wakelet will help you to “Unlock the power of curation.”

“Wakelet is the easiest way to capture, organize and share multi-media resources with students, teachers, and learning communities.”

Curation is a must-have skill for our students. It’s often referred to as the 5th C, added onto Critical thinking, Connecting, Creating, Collaborating. Wakelet makes curation easy to organize, visually appealing, and fun to practice. Your “Wakes” can include URLs, images, PDFs, videos, social media posts, Google Docs and Slides, Google Maps, GIFs, Tweets, Flipgrid responses, Screencastify recordings and more!

For my technology workshops, I usually organize my resources on a Google Site. If I can find helpful videos, I’ll embed them rather than post the link, just to make the page a little more interesting. With this Google Site on VideoConferencing & Google Classroom, for instance, without the embedded videos, it would just be a list of links, with descriptions that I added for each link.

But with, Wakelet, each website listed actually appears visually on the Wake, creating a way more accessible and interesting resource. And you can embed your “Wakes” on a blog, or website, or Google Site, etc. You can add collaborators to your Wakes. You decide if you want to keep your Wakes private, or unlisted (available to anyone with the link), or available to the public.


Concerned about accessibility issues? Wakelet gets it!

Although I’m new to Wakelet, I’m already committing to offering workshops at two different teacher conferences in January. If you are offering Wakelet trainings and have resources and tips to share, please leave a comment.

Today my Wakelet account – – includes two “collections.” I bet my collections will have quadrupled by January. I might even be a Wakelet Ambassador 🙂

Thank you again, Kathleen Morris, for leading the Wakelet charge.

Graphic on 6 ways to use Wakelet in the Classroom


October 21, 2019
by blogwalker

#FallCUE19 – My Top Takeaways

This year’s Fall CUE Conference was held at Cordova High School, an 18-minute drive from my home (in Folsom, Calif.). Nice!

Opening Keynote

Catlin Tucker gave the opening keynote. Thank you to the CUE team for recording and posting her talk. So many great time-saving tips and strategies for teachers, designed to put students in the driver’s seat.


Micro + Macro Writing: HyperDoc Lessons that Matter for Today’s WriterSarah Landis: This was my first time to meet Sarah Landis. Knowing that Sarah is one of the “hyperdocs girls,” I already knew her session would be a treat. I’ve also known, through my own teaching experiences, the power of limiting students to a set number of words or syllables. From 6-word memoirs, which Sarah had us delve into, to haiku, the format limitations seem to spark unlimited searches for just the right word – often pushing students to write beyond the school day – to write when they don’t have to write.

It Doesn’t Get Better Than This – EDUInnovators Unite!Kevin Fairchild gathered a group of educators from San Diego and asked them to share ‘one best thing’ to ensure their “technology integration provides relevant, engaging, and MARVELous learning opportunities for all.”

  • Brenda Gillies – Brenda introduce us to Thrively, which looks like a great tool for surveying students to identify their interests. Tip: If you do the assessment at the beginning of  the year, you will have an invaluable tool for helping students see the positives in their fellow classmates and to also analyze strengths/weaknesses of their own work groups.
  • Adina Sullivan – Adina never ceases to inspire me with powerful resources for important topics (accessibility, digital tattoo, and more). Her #FallCUE19 gems:
    • – Tip: Have students look at a whole block of text to judge the readability. Be sure to checkout Fontpair’s 10 Tips.
    • – Tip: You can paste emojis in as text to help students easily find things. Works great in Google Classroom.
  • Jen RobertsGroup Creator – Jen created this fantastic spreadsheet, which allows you to create non-random/deliberate groups. Tip: Use for student collaboration groups. Display groups on board for students to see as they walk in.
  • Kevin Fairchild – Accessibility in G Suite – Tip: I knew about using live captions via YouTube captions, as you can see in Catlin’s keynote, but I didn’t know you can now move the captions bar to the top of the video. 
  • Roger Wagner – Roger recommended exploring three programs to build students’ coding skills:
    • Arduino – “Arduino is an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for anyone making interactive projects.”
    • Make Code – “MakeCode brings computer science to life for all students with fun projects, immediate results, and both block and text editors for learners at different levels.”
    • WorkBench – “Using the Spark Fun Inventor’s Kit, students will learn the basics of programming in Arduino, how circuits work, how to create outputs and read inputs.”Integrates with Google Classroom.

Bull$h!+ Skills – Tools For Fighting False/Fake NewsMark Ray and Kristina Ishmael make a great team. I’ve heard Mark speak before (he is leading the Future Ready Schools charge). This was my first time to hear Kristina. I’ll definitely be exploring her site. It was a treat to join their high-energy session on a topic I too am passionate about. Here’s the link to their slides. #MediaLiteracy

Two Adobe Spark Sessions – I’m a huge fan of Adobe Spark, so I was delighted to see that both the awesome Laura Bradley and Brooke Carey Ahrens were offering sessions: Media Literacy through Media Creation: Graphics, Web Pages, and Videos, oh my! (Laura’s session) and Using Adobe Spark as a Transmedia Storytelling Tool (Brooks’ session). Love how Spark builds in proper attribution for Creative Commons content.

Podcasting 101 – I’ve been a long-time fan of Brian Briggs and Ryan O’Donnell. Love the many ways this dynamic duo infuses humor and practical tips into powerful tech integration. I could only stay for the first half of their workshop, so I’m looking forward to exploring their slides and playing with the Anchor app (now downloaded on my phone). In my district, elementary teachers are looking for meaningful ways to structure (and assess) speaking and listening activities. Podcasting meets – and exceeds – that requirement, with so many options for taking student voice beyond the walls of the classroom.

Closing Keynote

I’m hoping CUE will post Ed Campos Jr’s closing keynote. This 3-minute snippet gives a peek into his warm, embracing, hilarious style. Equity, empathy, and the “Pedagogy of Poverty,” were infused throughout – with a call to “release the learning and the writing to the kids.”

The biggest challenge in attending a CUE Conference is to decide which sessions to attend. The good news is that many of the Fall CUE presenters often present at the Annual Spring CUE Conference in Palm Springs. Starting the countdown till March.

September 22, 2019
by blogwalker

#ClimateStrike – Global Citizenship in Action

I stand in awe of 16-year old @GretaThunberg, who inspired thousands of youth across the globe to take to the streets and speak out during Friday’s #ClimateStrike.

As students return to classes on Monday, I’m betting they will be intently following the actions proposed by world leaders convening at the United Nations headquarters to confront a climate crisis. And I’m betting those world leaders will be acutely aware that youth across the globe will be holding them accountable.

With much appreciation for the efforts of over 4 million youth to save our planet. You have taken global citizenship to a whole new level.  #UpstandersNotBystanders

September 2, 2019
by blogwalker

#DigCit in the 2019-2020 School Year

As students and staff settle into the school year, it’s time to review new resources for teaching digital citizenship. I’m lucky to share this annual task with Kathleen Watt, co-director of our district’s digital citizenship program.

Every September, we send out an email to our school site #DigCit coordinators with a link to a Google Form for them to submit their Digital Citizenship Implementation Plan, an overview of specific lessons to be taught, along with any school events (assemblies, rallies, Parent Nights, etc.) they will be hosting.

The email also includes recommended resources for students, teachers, and parents. So far, our 2019-2020 list of #DigCit resources includes:

From the #ISTE19 Conference:

From Common Sense EducationCommon Sense also led digital citizenship sessions at #ISTE19, sharing their completed set of new or updated K-12 lessons, which all open in Google Docs and Slides, and are integrated into Google Classroom:

  • Hoaxes and FakesOne of the lessons Common Sense highlighted was a new lesson for 9th grade … created from the ideas and resources Kathleen and I originally shared during our 2016 Saturday Seminar and then went on to share and present with Rob Appel and Common Sense’s Kelly Mendoza at Spring CUE. Like many of the new Common Sense lessons, Hoaxes and Fakes can be taught as a stand alone or better yet, integrated into a science, English or history/social studies class to bring an awareness to media literacy as an essential skill for today’s research projects.

    Kelly Mendoza, Gail Desler, and Rob Appel.

  • 2019 Digital Citizenship Curriculum Crosswalk – The best way to view all the changes and updates from Common Sense is to click on the link and explore the new content, which, in their words, “includes lessons and resources easier to use and more relevant for teachers and students today.”
  • When is your brain ready for social media? – Common Sense, KQED and PBS have collaborated on a video to bring awareness to what rights students are giving up when they “Accept” the terms of use for 13+ apps, games, etc. The video could be a great conversation starter on privacy issues.

  • Parent Resources – Common Sense continues to create wonderful resources to bring parents into digital citizenship conversations. I love the new Tech Balance app for parents of 3-8 year-olds, which sends parents weekly tips and resources. Common Sense’s Research section is continually updated with “reliable, independent data on children’s use of media and technology and the impact it has on their physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development.”

A few more #digcit challenges:

We’ll be sending out the email by the end of next week. If you have #DigCit resources to add to our list, please jump in and leave a comment.

Wishing everyone a great start to the new school year.

August 5, 2019
by blogwalker

Can We Stop History from Repeating Itself?

For the past twelve years ago, I been posting about a project I’ve had the privilege of co-directing for my district: The Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project.

Initially, the project focused solely on a World War II event: The mass removal of Japanese-Americans from the West Coast following the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the onset of War War II.

Literally overnight, an entire population was denied the rights guaranteed to all citizens under the U.S. Constitution, and the history of the communities surrounding my school district was forever changed. Few would return to reclaim their farms, businesses, or former lives. The 16-minute documentary below provides a window into a time in our nation’s history when justice failed – and, more importantly,  a reminder of the need to constantly strive for a “more perfect union.”

As you can see from visiting the Time of Remembrance website, my co-director Kathleen Watt and I have expanded upon the project to include The Secret War in Laos, stories of our Hmong and Mien refugee community. Not surprisingly, there are many connections between the stories of WWII and the Vietnam War.

This year, we have returned to these timely and timeless WWII stories, always inspired by lessons learned from our interviews. More recently, Stan and Christine Umeda have drawn our attention to some similarities in what is happening at our southern border.

Scene from border protests regarding separation of families.

Image from 2019 border protests, via Christine Umeda. #StopRepeatingHistory

To see senior citizens (80+ years) standing up for those who have no voice speaks volumes. Considering they themselves were silenced during WWII, as they were stripped of the rights guaranteed to all U.S. citizens, their voice and commitment to social justice should resonate with everyone following current immigration events.

Photo from Sacramento Bee, showing Marilee Tsukamoto, Christine Umeda, and others at the border, protesting separation of families.

Christine Umeda and Marielle Tsukamoto at a July 2 immigration protest outside Sacramento federal courthouse.

I stand in awe of Christine, Stan, Marielle, and other members of the Florin Japanese American Citizens League for traveling to the border to speak out against the separation of families, a traumatic childhood experience from the incarceration experience that still haunts them – and moves them to take civic action.

And thank you, Christine, for sharing the resources listed below:

Can we stop history from repeating itself? Yes – by eliminating bystanders. It is through the courage and actions of upstanders, even a small group of upstanders, that it is indeed possible to reverse history.


If you are discussing the border issues in your classroom, I invite you and your students to post a comment on how to #StopRepeatingHistory.

Christine Umeda and friend outside Heart Mountain relocation Center Barrack

Christine Umeda – Heart Mountain Relocation Center



July 5, 2019
by blogwalker

Unpacking #ISTE19

Oh my, #ISTE19, so many great sessions, presenters, and takeaways! Due to a fractured right hand (the result of a bike accident in Holland), my notes are a little sketchy, but, hopefully, will provide you with a window into this year’s amazing annual technology conference for educators.

Day 1 (Sunday)

Listen to This! Tech Tools for Listening/Speaking – Katherine Goyote: This year, a conference priority was to bring back resources and tips for boosting students’ speaking and listening skills (which are now included in my district’s new elementary report card). Katherine’s session was outstanding and her presentation is one of my top takeaways.

Did you know that, via your device’s microphone, you can now enable closed captioning while presenting with Google Slides? What a powerful option, not only for hearing impaired students, but also for our ELs.

Throughout the session, Katherine stressed the importance of listening as an active activity and that listening must be purposeful, with opportunities to interact. She encouraged us to explore speaking and listening tools such as Screencastify and resources like Eric Palmer: PVLEGS. How about a YouTube video to illustrate what active listening does NOT look like:

Be sure to checkout Katherine’s blog: WonderExploreLearn.

B.Y.O. Digital Citizenship: Hands-On Pathways to Drive Change – It was a privilege to join Dr. Mike Ribble (author, ISTE DigCit PLN), Dr. Marty Park (Chief Digital Officer, Kentucky Dept.of Ed.), Dr. Kerri Stubbs (BrainPop), Mike Jones (Illinois State University- Lab School), and students from Kentucky’s Bourbon High School for this dynamic panel discussion on digital citizenship resources. What a great audience we had, including teachers from Mexico City and Guadalajara.

My big takeaway was Kentucky’s Digital Driver’s License program. Thanks to Marty Parks’ vision, teachers and students in Kentucky school districts need to complete the DDL requirements before signing out a school laptop. The goal is for students and staff to move from digital literacy to digital fluency. I’m excited to learn more about the collaborative efforts of Marty and Mike Ribble to seamlessly integrate digital citizenship into the school day and subject areas.

Beyond the Slideshow: Unleashing Student Creativity With Google Slides – Eric Curts: I’ve been a long-time fan of Eric Curts. His generosity in sharing and posting technology tips and resources is much appreciated by a broad national audience (34.4K followers on Twitter). Eric’s session slideshow is the most complete walk thru of Google Slides I’ve ever seen. Did you know Google has recently made it easier to embed audio in a slide? Yay!

When are Facts Not Facts? Media Literacy in 2019 – Susan Brooks-Young: Susan’s ISTE 2018 session on media literacy was one of my favorites, so I hurried across the convention center to join her 2019 session. Although she did not share her slideshow, here’s the link to her resources. Just added CBC Deep Fakes Explained Video to my #MediaLiteracy bookmarks.

Day 2 (Monday)

Creative Storytelling With Adobe Spark – Claudio Zavala: I became an instant fan of Adobe Spark earlier this year when I realized this free, high-quality Adobe presentation product automatically attached Creative Commons licensing to any images inserted from their Unsplash/Pixabay/Noun Project collections. Claudio Zavala, logically and stunningly, used Adobe Spark for his session presentation. He is a wonderful presenter and is right up there with Eric Curts in sharing and posting resources and tutorials on his website. Here is the link to his Adobe Spark tutorials playlist.

Becoming an Awesome Digital Citizenship Leader – Dr. Mike Ribble and Dr. Marty Park: The link to Mike and Mark’s presentation will give you an idea of the scope and sequence of their session and their combined wealth of knowledge and resources. I’m looking forward to conversations back in my district on how to promote #DigCit leadership at our school sites. Kathleen Watt (co-director of our #DigCit program) and I are hoping that by opening our Digital Citizenship workshops to faculty and staff (not just our site coordinators), we will leave no grown ups behind in understanding and tapping into what it means to be a contributing citizen in a digital age.

Copy of autographed book

Digital Citizenship: 3 educators, 2 frameworks, 1 shared visionDr. LeeAnn Lindsey, Dr. Kristen Mattson, Nancy Watson: Loved having three of my major #DigCit role models presenting together, with each posting a page of great resources. I recommend starting with Nancy’s Everyday DigCit App:

An important session takeaway: Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and #DigCit should go hand-in-hand across the school day.

”Not all adults in our students’ lives are positive #digcit role models. We can be that role model.” Nancy Watson

Real or Fake? Strategies for Truth Finding – Dean Shareski: Although Dean did not share his presentation, the websites he shared for teaching media literacy were some of my best #ISTE19 takeaways:

  • – Facebook Status Generator: “Build your own fake Facebook Status and prank your friends. You can change ANYTHING, use emoticons and even upload your own profile photos for post and comments. This generator is in no way associated with Facebook. All graphical material is protected by the copyright owner. May only be used for personal use.”
  • Crap Detector Resources – From Howard Rheingold, inspired by Ernest Hemmingway’s words: “The essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, bullshit detector.”
  • Science VS – “Science Vs takes on fads, trends, and the opinionated mob to find out what’s fact, what’s not, and what’s somewhere in between. Science Vs is produced by Gimlet Media.”
  • – “Whether it’s removing the background from an image, making a double exposure, adding in text or retouching a favorite pic, Pixomatic photo editor has everything you need to customize your images.”
  • FotoForensics – “Submit a JPEG or PNG for forensic analysis.”
  • Media Bias/Fact Check – “We are the most comprehensive media bias resource on the internet. There are currently 2800+ media sources listed in our database and growing every day. Don’t be fooled by Fake News sources. Use the search feature above (Header) to check the bias of any source. Use name or url.”

Monday Night Highlight: National Writing Project Reunion

A wonderful #ISTE19 memory: An after dinner walk with Troy Hicks, Sandy Hayes, Erin Wilkey Oh, me, and Christina Cantrill = 13 years of a shared #NWP digital writing learning journey.

Day 3 (Tuesday)

Going Rogue With Microsoft — Complete With Tips and Tricks – Leslie Fisher: I’m excited about the multiple ways MS Office 360’s new tools take Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to new levels for accessibility, creating, and presenting. Thank you, Leslie, for sharing your session presentation.

I recommend clicking on every single one of Leslie’s hyperlinks for insights into extending teaching and learning via MS Office 360, starting with the immersive reader tools for Word and the Presenter Coach in PowerPoint:

Beyond SAMR: 6 Design Questions for Empowered Teaching and Learning – Alan November: Over the past 10 years, I’ve had the privilege of hearing Alan November present at a number of conferences…and every time I leave with new takeaways:

  • Bing VS. Google – Just a reminder not to limit searches to Google. Try using to see Bing and Google search results side-by-side.
  • MathTrain.TV – Students teaching students has always been the most powerful model for learning. “The evidence is overwhelming that students will watch student-created videos over & over.”
  • PRISM – “Prism was created by novice student developers in the Praxis Program. Prism is a tool for “crowd sourcing interpretation. Users are invited to provide an interpretation of a text by highlighting words according to different categories, or ‘facets.’Each individual interpretation then contributes to the generation of a visualization which demonstrates the combined interpretation of all the users. We envision Prism as a tool for both pedagogical use and scholarly exploration, revealing patterns that exist in the subjective experience of reading a text.”

Common Sense Education #ISTE19 Booth – As a Common Sense Ambassador and long-time fan of the innovative, continually updated ways Common Sense “supports K-12 schools with free, timely, research-based tools that take the guesswork out of teaching in the digital age,” I loved joining the team in the vendor’s hall for a couple of hours to meet and greet the many educators who stopped by to learn more about Common Sense resources or who just wanted to thank this dynamic organization for its on-going commitment to supporting digital citizenship and media literacy education.

Common Sense Team #ISTE19

Day 4 (Wednesday)

Hey Google … Take Me on a Trip – Tricia Louis: I loved this session. Tricia Louis delivered on her program description: “Explore tools that focus on how to use maps and other geographical-based information in any content area. Tools that will be shared will be Google MyMaps, Google Tour Builder, Google Earth, Google Tour Creator/Poly, Google Story Speaker and GeoGussr.”

Over the past few years, I’ve dabbled a bit with most of these tools, but Tricia’s beautiful presentation is the motivation I need to revisit some of my travel posts, such as Holland with Hannie, and transform them into interactive explorations.

Conscientious Creativity: Where Creation and Copyright IntersectDr. Monica Burns, Kerry Gallagher, Kristina Ishmael, Lynn Kleinmeyer: Copyright and fair use are topics I teach and follow with great interest, always on the lookout for new resources and insights. I’ve been sharing Kerry Gallagher’s Educator’s Guide to Creativity and Copyright in my workshops, so it was fun to hear her present this resource. And I’ve become a big fan of Monica Burn’s work with Adobe Spark – a free program for teachers and school districts that automatically includes Creative Commons licensing with any images uploaded from their collections (drawn from Unsplash, Pixabay, and the Noun Project) – a built in digital citizenship lesson.

Besides the infused humor, pace, and inter-activeness of their presentation, I loved the simplicity and design of their session slideshow.

ISTE Author Spotlight: Fighting Fake News: Teaching Media Literacy in the Digital Age – Darren Hudgins: I ran across 3 buildings to catch the last few minutes of Darren Hudgins‘ ISTE Authors Spotlight session. I left this last #ISTE19 session not only with an autographed copy of Fact VS. Fiction: Teaching Critical thinking in the Age of Fake News but also with a copy of the Fighting Fake News Jump Start Guide. (Note to Self: Find funding to purchase the Jump Start Guide as a give-away for upcoming Media Literacy workshops.)


Thank you to the ISTE Team and all who presented and generously shared  insights and resources – and especially to Sandy Hayes and my @WritingProject colleagues – for making #ISTE19 an unforgettable learning experience. Philadelphia, I miss you already.

Holland – 2019 Bike & Barge Trip

July 1, 2019 by blogwalker | 0 comments

We can see; we must begin
To honor all who came before…
I am like you and you’re like me.
Saw a world no eye should see
Which I as yet may not forget.

               Hannie J. Ostendorf Voyles

I’m in Holland for the week, my 4th time to join Hannie Voyles for a bike & barge trip across this beautiful country. Knowing that Hannie intends for this to be her last bike & barge excursion, I think it’s important that this time I document her insights into the history of Holland, the impact of WWII, and how targeted populations can move forward from the past.

Day 1 – June 8, our start date, was the rainiest, windiest day I’ve ever spent in Holland. No matter. Hannie was already on board the Liza Marleen barge when my Sacramento travel companions Cathe Petuya, Marianne Deming, and I arrived.

We dropped off our suitcases and headed out with Hannie and the rest of our bike & barge team for a rooftop lunch at the beautiful Amsterdam Library.

We were back at the barge in time for our first dinner on board. Dinners on the Liza Marleen are a wonderful dining experience and an opportunity to get to know your fellow travelers, to reflect on the day’s adventures and to plan for the next day.


After dinner, I joined Hannie, her granddaughter Jennifer, and fellow traveler Carol for an evening stroll. Although I’ve walked past the landmark Basilica of Saint Nikolas on every trip, this was the first time to enter the Basilica – just in time to hear a beautiful performance by a choral group, made even more spectacular by the acoustics, domed ceilings, stained glass windows, and carved arches. No photos allowed, so thank you, StephenCDickson for sharing the one below.

Day 2 – Following breakfast, we were off for our first day of biking across Holland. Our destination was Leiden, via Haarlem, where the barge would be waiting for us. Change of plans. Due to a draw bridge malfunction, the Liza Marleen could go no further than Haarlem.

Our guide, Anita, quickly came up with another bike route: a 50 mile trip through Haarlem, up sand dunes, out to the North Sea, and back through Harlem.

This was my first time to explore Haarlem’s  Grote Market Square  and the Cathedral of St. Bavo (thank you, Deemster, for sharing the photo).

Day 3 – Off to Leiden – It’s always a toss up on a bike & barge trip between the beauty of the next town and the equally spectacular stretches of villages and pasture lands in between towns. According to the tag on my iPhone, this fun-to-climb tower is located near Zandvoort.

This trip was also my first ride through the outskirts of Alsmeer and then crossing the Ringvaart Canal by ferry en route to Leiden.

You can feel yourself stepping/riding back in time from the minute you enter Leiden through its historic gates.

Leiden’s history dates back to the 15th century. Its university was founded in 1575, a right given the city for its role in helping end the Spanish occupation. The pilgrims lived here for a short time in the early 17th century before sailing to the New World. Leiden is definitely one of my favorite cities for biking, walking, shopping.

Day 4 – Delft – Today, rather than bike, I stayed on the barge with Hannie, who, unfortunately, had a bad fall coming into Leiden and needed some recovery time. Els, our barge captain, announced the night before that the canal ride from Leiden to Delft was her favorite part of the tour, as we would be sailing down the Vliet Canal. From windmills, to a wedding procession, to draw bridges – our deck provided lovely close-up views into village life.

We sailed into Delft ready to enjoy the magnificent Old Centre. In addition to outdoor cafes, restaurants, and shops to explore, a talented band from a local high school entertained and energized all who were fortunate to be at the Centre.

Oh, but the tower of the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), second tallest church tower in Holland, beckoned to/challenged all passers-by to climb the steep and narrow winding staircase (376 steps) to the top. Four of us could not resist (thank you fellow travelers Michelle and Joan and bike & barge tour leader Anita for leading the charge). Wish I could have captured the breathtaking views with a 365 degree camera.

I passed on a visit to the Delft factory, as I had been there on a previous trip. Having the day to kick back in the Old Centre, do a little tower climbing, check out the shops, and snack on bitterballen made for an amazing day.

On to Rotterdam.

Day 5 – Rotterdam / Kinderdijk / Gouda – Today’s route started with a ferry ride through Rotterdam. This major port city was heavily bombed by the Germans during WWII and has been almost completely reconstructed. Rotterdam is now known for its bold, modern architecture, which includes skyscrapers, a rare site in Holland. Although I’ve biked through Rotterdam before, the ferry boat ride provided a glimpse into the hustle and bustle of Europe’s largest port. Even Noah’s Ark is moored here.

Although the above photo (shared by nschaten) shows the port on a sunny day, our ferry boat was crossing the Nieuwe Mass, a distributary of the Rhine River, during a downpour that pretty much followed us throughout the day. As we approached Kinderdijk, it was time to put on rain jackets and grab our bikes.

Throughout Holland’s history, managing water has been an essential occupation in a country that is surrounded by water and below sea level. Canals and windmills initially served this purpose; today electric pumping stations are taking on the task. Stepping into one of the Kinderdijk windmills and seeing the multilevel, compact working and living quarters of a miller and family members is a window into an occupation critical to much of Holland’s early history.

BTW, the windmills of Kinderdijk have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.

From Kinderdijk, we headed out on our bikes into the rain en route to Gouda. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, my front tire got caught in the rear tire of my Canadian friend Shirley’s bike. I don’t really remember the fall, but I might have outdone Hannie, whose wounds were quickly healing. Nevertheless. within minutes, I was back on my bike headed to Gouda, one of my favorite cities.

Thank goodness for flesh-colored bandages that kind of/sort of made us both presentable for dinner on the barge.

Day 6 – Gouda – Gouda is known not only for its cheese, but also for its stroopwafels, stained class windows, fairy-tale-like town hall, and iconic canals.

Understandably, Gouda is a top tourist destination. Thank you, Wikipedia, for posting the historical highlights and photos of Gouda.

Day 7 – Oude Wetering – The good news about day 7 was that Hannie was back riding again. The bad news was that, due my fractured right hand, I would not be riding. And our tour guide Anita informed us that Oude Wetering had absolutely nothing of interest to see and to prepare myself for a boring day. Even Wikipedia has nothing much to say about this little town, summarizing it in 3 sentences.

Oude Wetering is a village in the Dutch province of South Holland. It is located in the municipality of Kaag en Braassem, east of the town of Roelofarendsveen.

A bridge connects the village to the village of Weteringbrug in the Haarlemmermeer.

Waving good-bye to my fellow travelers, I set off on a walk. I pledge to find out more about the tiny historic building, the only photo I took, and then upload it to the Wikipedia page.

Oh, but the boat ride from Oude Wetering to Amsterdam was wonderful, with a full day of sunshine. It was also the last day to travel down the canals on the Liza Marleen.

Day 8 – Amsterdam – Day 8 was the icing on the bike & barge trip: a tour of Amsterdam with Hannie. I have walked the streets of Amsterdam with Hannie before and every time is a personalized learning journey.  Her insights into the war years are through the eyes of a Holocaust survivor, who, as a child, lived on the 2nd floor (above the Brood sign) in an apartment building just around the corner from Nazi headquarters (formerly a girls Catholic boarding school). The apartment entry staircase still has the step down at the top where, as a youngster, out foraging after curfew, Hannie often hid from Nazi patrols.

She played in the same neighborhood as Anne Frank and, for a time, attended the same Montessori school, a few years behind Anne.

We stopped at the 1st Montessori School to remember the children who did not survive the war – and are now honored by a plaque inscribed with Hannie’s commemorative words.

Not far from the school, a monument stands in honor of 100+ Dutchmen, ages 15-50, who were  executed during a razzia (Nazi round up of Jews) in retaliation for the burning of a home occupied by a Nazi officer.

There is a peacefulness about Holland’s WWII monuments. They are beautifully maintained, in plain site, and stand in honor of and as visible reminders of the past.

As we headed back to the Liza Marleen, we made one more stop, our last chance to share a plate of bittenballen and toast to the beauty of Holland and a fantastic trip. We ended the evening with a boat tour of Amsterdam.

I love Holland.

I don’t think there could possibly be a better way to tour Holland than with someone who was born and raised there, witnessed and survived WWII, returns annually, and is also a gifted poet and writer. To bike & barge across Holland with Hannie Voyles is an unforgettable opportunity to experience the past and to celebrate our shared humanity.

Holland with Hannie

We Ride
Under sun-filled skies, ever-shifting clouds, downpours, soaring grey herons

Across bridges, through fields of flowers, cattle, and sheep, village lanes, and city roads – we ride

We walk
Down boats ramps, into city squares and shops filled with  savory cheeses, rich, rich chocolates, espressos, cappuccinos, and blue & white treasures – we walk

We bond
Over spicy hot bitterballen, steaming bowls of soup and more, freshly made just for us, sharing stories of the day’s ride, and with glasses raised in celebration of an extraordinary journey – we bond

We ride


One last…photo opp, trip to the Flower Market, puppy snuggle, sunset over Amsterdam


This gallery contains 75 photos

May 19, 2019
by blogwalker

Social Media, Cyberbullying and the Role of the Bystander – Change Is Coming

Throughout history, the role of the bystander has been attributed to inciting countless bad things to happen. Today, bystanders are involved in most cyberbullying incidents – with no consequences for their actions or lack of action. Change is coming.

Thursday evening, my colleague Kathleen Watt and I headed over to Joseph Kerr Middle School to attend a Parent Night presentation from the Organization for Social Media Safety (SMS).

Ed Peisner, who founded SMS in 2017, opened his presentation with a short video to explain the organization’s mission.

In response to the 2017 vicious, debilitating attack on his son Jordan, which was filmed by the attacker’s friend and then uploaded to social media (Snapchat), Ed took action. In addition to forming the SMS, he dedicated himself to working with public policy. Within the year, and in collaboration with California Assemblymember Matt Dababneh, Ed spearheaded the passing of AB 1542, AKA Jordan’s Law. The law makes it a criminal offense to deliberately record an attack for the purpose of posting it on social media, and, in some cases, the person filming and posting the video (bystanders) could also be charged.

Speaker Ed Peisner

Peisner views AB 1542 as a step forward for change. But he’s not stopping there. He is currently working on “groundbreaking social media safety legislation at the state level and with local school boards on enhancing social media safety policies.”

In Jordan’s case, only the perpetrator, who did not even know Jordan, was charged with a crime. The bystanders, including the young woman partnering with the perpetrator to film the attack, were not. Typically the perpetrators commit the act of bullying/cyberbullying and recording/posting to social media for the purpose of gaining “likes”, more important to them than the consequences of their actions. Without the bystanders, the attack on Jordan would likely not have happened. It is because of bystanders that history all too often repeats itself.

I recommend visiting the SMS website and signing up for their newsletter. I’m also following the organization on Twitter to help keep on top of the ever-changing social media issues that impact the lives and safety of our students and their families.

I look forward to future Parent Nights and student rallys with Ed Peisner and enthusiastically support the work and goals of SMS:

SMS is the nation’s first non-profit that serves as a consumer protection organization focused solely on social media safety. SMS protects families from all social media-related dangers including cyberbullying, violence, hate speech, human trafficking, and propaganda through innovative educational programming,legislative and regulatory advocacy, and technology development.” 

If your state has legislation in place addressing possible legal consequences for cyberbullying offenses, please leave a comment with the information. I would love to see a national movement in confronting cyberbullying and the role of the bystander spread to all 50 states.

May 6, 2019
by blogwalker

Storming the Tulips – #HollandWithHannie

Next month I will return to Holland for my 4th Cycle Tours bike & barge trip with Holocaust survivor, author, and community activist Hannie Voyles. Having recently turned 86, Hannie has proclaimed the 10-day tour/ride/learning adventure to be the last she will lead.

At a time when anti-semitism is on the rise and findings from a recently released survey show that many adults, especially millennials (18-32), lack basic knowledge of what happened during the Holocaust, supporting Holocaust education is more important than ever.

I’m proud that my school district includes the Holocaust in their history/social science curriculum, and that many middle school English/language arts teachers introduce the topic to their 7th graders through the Diary of Anne Frank.

I too was a 7th grader when I read Anne Frank’s story. Sixty years later, Anne’s story, words, and images remain in my heart. Her diary made visible to me the impact of propaganda and hate in ways the staggering statistics of  the Holocaust could not. They were too unthinkable, unspeakable, unimaginable to a 12 year old – and still are.

In many ways, Anne’s story was life-changing, starting me on a journey that led to attending the Shoah Institute (back when it was on a backlot of Universal Studios), joining the TOLI Holocaust Educators Network, making the pilgrimage to Manzanar, initiating the Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project, joining humanitarian Carl Wilkens for a journey to Rwanda – and, of course, inspiring me to join Hannie for three previous bike & barge journeys.

And there is a direct connection between Anne’s story and Hannie’s story. In 1940, when the Nazis stormtroopers “stormed the tulips,” Anne and Hannie lived in the same neighborhood and attended the same school.

Anne Frank, Montessori School, Amsterdam

Hannie Voyles, Montessori School, Amsterdam

“Anne Frank was just a few years older than I was. I remember seeing her on the streets and at school, laughing and playing like ordinary children did before the Nazis invaded our country and stole our neighbors, our friends, our food, our hope, and our dignity. She was just another student, just another girl, just another child of our community.” Hannie Voyles

To bike across Holland with Hannie is an unforgettable experience. There is not an hour that goes by that she does not share an insight or a memory from a town, a street, a building, a field, a monument, etc. In a way, Hannie’s sharing her stories of survival and resilience is like “reclaiming the tulips” by not allowing some of the darkest hours of Holland’s history to be forgotten.

Our journey will begin on the evening of June 8, when we board the Liza Marleen barge, have dinner and unpack, and then take our first ride, a short one around the Amsterdam port area to make sure we’re good to go with our bikes first thing in the morning. Each evening, in a different port and after a full day of biking across the southern part of Holland, we’ll return to the Liza Marleen for dinner, spend a little time recapping the day, plan for the next day, perhaps take a short evening walk or ride, and eventually head to bed – with much anticipation for the next day’s ride.

Cycle Tours Liza Marleen barge

This year, I promise to post a daily photo journal of my 2019 Holland with Hannie adventure. #HollandWithHannie.


April 14, 2019
by blogwalker

Stories Matter – California AB 1393

“I was born on a mountain.

I tell my story to my daughter.

I tell her write it down.

I want her know how hard I work.”

Iu Mien refugee, Folsom Farmers Market, April 2019

Last week, I joined a group of Laotian refugees on the west steps of Sacramento’s Capitol building. We were there to march for CA Assembly Bill 1393.

Photo of Lao community gathering on steps of Capitol

A year ago, California legislature unanimously passed and signed into law SB 895 (Nguyen), a bill mandating the inclusion of the “Vietnamese refugee experience, the Cambodian genocide, and Hmong history and cultural studies in pupil instructions.”

The Hmong are the largest Laotian ethnic group to emigrate to the United States. But they are not the only ethnic group. SB 895 is missing other groups, such as the Lao, Iu Mien, Khmu, Phutai, Tai Lue, Tai Dam, and Tai Deng, who, like the Hmong, also supported American troops during the Vietnam War. Assembly Members Shirley Weber and Joaquin Arambula have addressed this oversight by introducing AB 1393. The bill would require the state’s Instructional Quality Commission, which develops and recommends curricula to the state Board of Education, to develop a curriculum that includes the history of Laotian refugees.

In my school district, we have almost as many Iu Mien students as Hmong, along with a significant number of Lao. I’m proud that my district recognizes the importance of documenting their stories of coming to America, starting with the role they played in the “Secret War in Laos,” a little known chapter of the Vietnam War. Thanks to district support, and in partnership with the Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium (SECC), I’ve had the privilege of co-directing our Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project and expanding it to include a growing archive of Hmong and Iu Mien interviews (with more Lao and Cambodian interviews to come).

When I arrived at the capitol at noon on Wednesday, organizers Khonepeth Lily Liemthongsamout and Pida Kongphouthone gathered us together for some photo opps and then went over the plan for the afternoon. Pida talked briefly about the importance of this event as an opportunity to communicate why Laotian Americans are part of the American fabric. Lily added that the process of advocating for the bill would probably take the rest of the day.

March organizers Pida and Lily

We entered the Capitol with the possibility that we would be there till 5:30 pm. That was not the case. As we made our way through the crowded hallways to the doors of the Assembly Chamber, the news arrived that AB 1393 had just passed the Assembly Committee and would soon be moving onto the floor for a vote, as early as next week. Approximately 15 minutes later, we exited the building with lots of smiles, handshakes, and more photo opps.

Lao-American teacher Christie Jackson

Exiting the Capitol with fellow educator Christie Jackson.

A highlight of the event was time I spent with Christie Jackson, a Lao-American teacher in my district,  getting to hear about the trip to Laos she and her father will be taking in February. This will be her first time to Laos and her father’s first time back since the war. He joined the U.S. Forces as a child soldier. He survived not only the war, but also the challenging times after the U.S. pulled out. Christie and her dad will visit his village and then retrace his escape journey through the jungles and across the Mekong River to the refugee camp in Thailand, where he stayed until coming to America.

I should probably mention that I was actually the only non-Asian who came to support AB 1393. As I was leaving the Capitol, one of the women reached out to me and gave me a hug. Her English was limited, but she thanked me for my support. The hug spoke volumes.

Iu Mien women, survivor of the Secret War

I thought of her this morning, when I stopped by a booth at the Folsom Farmers Market, run by a young woman and her mother, to buy strawberries. When I asked the daughter if they were Iu Mien (based on the last name listed on their banner), her face lit up as she shared how much it meant to her that I even knew who the Iu Mien were. When I told her about AB 1393, she said how much she would value her children learning about their history, something she had never read about or heard mentioned in her school years.

Her mother then spoke up. In four sentences (listed at the start of this post), she confirmed the rationale laid out in AB 1393 for documenting the first-hand accounts of those who witnessed and survived the Secret War in Laos. Through these oral histories, our students will have access to the “complete and accurate history of the Vietnam War.”

Yes. #StoriesMatter.

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