• Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
    Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
    by David Allen
  • Preparing Instructional Objectives: A Critical Tool in the Development of Effective Instruction
    Preparing Instructional Objectives: A Critical Tool in the Development of Effective Instruction
    by Robert F. Mager
  • The Perfect Puppy: How to Choose Your Dog by Its Behavior
    The Perfect Puppy: How to Choose Your Dog by Its Behavior
    by Benjamin L. Hart, Lynette A. Hart

    This book includes super helpful graphs describing 56 common dog breeds in terms of 13 traits, including playfulness.

  • Mother Knows Best: The Natural Way to Train Your Dog
    Mother Knows Best: The Natural Way to Train Your Dog
    by Carol Lea Benjamin

    My favorite book on dog training.

Thoughts on instructional design, my dog, and life


Enticing Teenagers

Capitola VillageWhenever I mention that I’m designing a course for teenagers on how to manage their money, the adults always react with enthusiasm. “That would be a great course!” “I wish I’d had a class like that when I was a teenager!”

But when I mentioned it to my daughter (a junior in high school), she wrinkled her nose. At this point, managing her money isn’t relevant to her (always an early test when doing instructional design). She doesn’t bring in money, nor does she spend much money.

How do you make a class on managing your money exciting to such a teenager?

First of all, change the name. Maybe call it “How much money do you have?”, or “How much money can you spend?” My daughter’s eyes lit up when I mentioned shopping. Maybe I should call the class “Shopping”. I can envision our first session, a field trip, me and four students window shopping in Capitola Village.

Of course, this presupposes that each student has money and some sort of bank account: add this to the conditions of the course objectives.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I have the main learning objectives, but I need to either break them down or do a skills hierarchy, or possibly fill out a final student performance worksheet (a favorite job aid I picked up at Practical Management, Inc.’s Instructional Design workshop).

Has this ever happened to you, you start a project and immediately your mind shoots off in a spiderweb of directions? Time to reel it in….


Trail Maintenance

For a good part of this year I’ve been giving back by helping the Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Association maintain the trails in Castle Rock State Park. Every third Saturday. From 9 am to 3 pm.

 Pickaxe & McLeod

For the first number of months, I spent the three weeks leading up to the work day dreading it. Gradually, that lessened to just one week leading up.

Also, for the first number of outings, my weekend was wrecked, I was so worn out and sore. Things have gotten better in that area. I was even able to muster enough energy to cook dinner Sunday night.

What have I learned from my experience so far? Well, you really need a mosquito net in August and September. I’ve learned how to properly wield a pickaxe. How to leverage large stones out of the earth. To think carefully about where a tree trunk is going to roll once it’s cut. Most importantly, I’ve learned that I really enjoy learning, even when it comes to such predominantly physical tasks as wielding a McLeod.


Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday LogoI thought I could list, off the top of my head, the charitable institutions I support. Nope. I checked last year’s tax return, & I would’ve missed a few. As it turns out, other than recycling/decluttering donations, almost all of the charities I support have to do with learning. The obvious ones: Santa Cruz Montessori, Stanford University, Wikimedia, Kirby. The not so obvious ones: Yellowstone Association (education is actually their main mission), Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre (the associated studio is for-profit, so to support the learning of classical ballet locally, I support SCBT). And possibly least obvious, Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Association, to which I donate time and sweat at the monthly trail maintenance days. Their charter doesn’t include learning, but I’ve learned a lot by volunteering for them.

Is this true for everyone? Does everyone donate to institutions primarily concerned with learning or education? Or is it the nature of charitable institutions to have a strong education component? And if the latter is true, what does that say about our society?

Cogitate, give, and enjoy on this Giving Tuesday! #givingtuesday #Stanford


Learning to Manage your Money

Money chestWhen did you learn how to manage your money? (Have you learned how to manage your money?)

I had my initial lesson in managing my money when I arrived at university freshman year. There was a bank conveniently located right there in the student union. Of course, I wouldn’t say I learned the right way to manage my money. In fact, I picked up some very peculiar ideas, about how to use credit cards, for example.

So, now that my daughter is about to take off for college, I find myself wondering how she’ll learn, and, because that’s what I do, I find myself designing a course.

At this point, my working learning objectives are: a student should be able to (ASBAT) answer "Yes!" these three questions daily and accurately:

  1. Do I know how much money I have? (Register balance)
  2. Do I know how much money I can spend? (Budget/spending plan)
  3. Am I sure? (Reconciled bank statement)

The next thing I need to figure out is how to make the course enticing to the target audience, i.e., teenagers about to leave home. Stay tuned!


Queen Isabella

Queen Isabella CoverI have to admire my daughter’s history teacher: she has a delightful prepared environment (a Montessori concept) where she makes sure her private library includes at least two quality primary sources for any of the research topics she assigns. My daughter has been working on a report on Queen Isabella. One thing led to another and I ended up listening to Queen Isabella: treachery, adultery, and murder in medieval England, by Alison Weir. Gripping. Plus, it turns out this is one of Ms. Olsen’s primary sources. I’ve never been a fan of history, or biography, so what a coup that Ms. Weir kept my interest through 22 hours (487 pages)! Do you know how Ms. Olsen keeps her library intact? Students must leave a shoe in exchange for the book they want to take out of the classroom.

I am blessed to be exposed to three great ladies.