Favorite Podcasts of 2017

I adore podcasts.

In the vein of ‘whistle while you work,’ they spice up chores and transport me out of the sardine can of a marshrutka ride home. They set me on new quests for learning, soothe the melancholy of the day, enliven the tedium of a Monday, fuel understanding by challenging my preconceptions, and regale my wit (see what I did there?).

They are the chief way I satisfy my curiosity for a multitude of topics. Some are quite lengthy and others are short and to the point. I can delve deep into one topic or pick up several ideas in quick succession. Continue reading “Favorite Podcasts of 2017”


A New Journey

Tumbleweed TinyHouse - Elm 18 Overlook
Photo Credit: Tumbleweed Houses

If you had previously followed this blog, I thank you. Though it was temporarily hidden because I did not anticipate needing it again, I am back and with a pretty exciting journey to chronicle. The last several years, I have been working with Learning Disability students through the Discovery Program. This year, I have been given the privilege to work with gifted students in what we call the STEWARDS program; a student environment for arduous studies.

This pull-out program for 3-6 grade students, works through differentiated enrichment units. The purpose of these units is to foster the gifts the students have and to train them to be good stewards of those gifts. This year the topics are as follows: Conservation, Architecture, Constellations, Circulatory System, Bizarre Animals, Aerodynamics, Culinary Arts, Inventors/Inventions, and Travel/Touring.

This blog will primarily chronicle the journey that will make up the architecture unit. Why you ask? Because we are not going to be talking about bridges or the history of architectural design. No toothpicks and marshmallows here!

For about three years I have extensively research a growing movement within our country – the Tiny House. Though I am certain I will not live in a house that is a mere 117 sq ft., I might just own one for traveling the country. My vision for this unit consists of briefly covering the history and impact of the movement as well as contrasting the benefits and drawbacks of such houses. Along with that, I thought this unit would prove the ultimate platform for HANDS ON learning.

How would I accomplish this? Why not build one as a class and auction it as a fundraiser?

I laid out this crazy idea, not thinking it would legitimately take hold, and am now at the stage where plans have been purchased, the trailer is being ordered, and timelines are in place. Here is the outline of how it happened…in one weeks time.

Monday – Topic Ideas were given to my boss.

Tuesday – Upon inquiring what project I would consider for the Tiny House unit, I cast the vision for building a house.

Wednesday – Next came the question of cost – a mere $25,000. I thought the project would stop here, but momentum kept building.

Thursday – By this time, the Administration was behind the idea. Now we had to be about finding a donor.

Friday – I participated in a 45 minute meeting with a Lees Summit Plans Examiner, Project Manager, and Planner where preliminary approval was granted!!! (The City is stoked and wants to watch what happens.)

I am completely blown away. We went from concept to preliminary approval in 4 days.

After approval was granted, the search for a donor commenced. Though it was a short time, it seemed to drag on. My hope waned and I began to draw up lesson plan B. The donor deadline came and went without funds. Yet, three days after the deadline, through a providential conversation, a donor stepped forward and is gladly putting forth the whole amount for the project.

I was sitting at home after back-to-school night, pondering what would be taking place in “lesson plan B” when my boss called me and informed me of this incredible provision. I was stunned to say the least. I don’t think I said anything during the conversation except an emotionless OK. I hung up the phone and let the news sink in. I had given up hope, but now I was back in the midst of the project! I raced back to the school at 10pm and began to collect all the material I had shelved and to produce parent letters, schedule spreadsheets, and project timelines.

Since then, many details have fallen into place, and I’m ecstatic to announce the following:

During the 2014-2015 school year, Summit Christian Academy’s Stewards class will be building a Tiny House and auctioning it off as a school fundraiser!

For the last week and a half, I have been pouring over material lists and blue prints. Little by little, I am seeing this grand dream come into reality. Yet, I am still completely blown away that this is actually taking place. (I also have the occasional “What have I gotten myself into” moment). Never did I think it would move beyond a crazy idea! The Lord has already worked in incredible and unexpected ways. What a year this will be!

Stay tuned for progress!!

From the Desk,

Mr. Bluebaugh

An Update and the Bare Necessities

Boy studying, from the album: Miscellaneous. P...
Boy studying, from the album: Miscellaneous. Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine, ca. 1924. From the National Child Labor Committee Collection at the Library of Congress (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The last few weeks have been jam-packed with reading, classes, studying, evaluating theses, writing papers, a lot of coffee/tea and some great music to keep me going. I am settling back into the groove of student life (i.e., long hours of study, few hours of sleep) and it is all bringing back to mind the reasons I love studying. There is great joy in applying oneself to the pursuit of knowledge.

Over the course of three solid weeks, I have completed 9 credit hours of class (requiring classes that met everyday of the week for 8 hours). Now I am in the process of completing all of the papers for those classes. Through those weeks I learned about the historical and philosophical foundations of education, how to conduct successful educational research and how to write a masters thesis. Though I am three years (or so) from adding a graduate degree to my roster, the expectation of excellence in my course work is preparing me as if my thesis were due next month. (I love it!)

Well, enough about what I have been doing. I still have many hours ahead of paper writing and research. However, I wanted to pass along what I consider my bare necessities for a good study session. The presupposition is of course that you are prepared to dedicate earnest time to study and to put forth the hard work required to adequately comprehend and retain information. Here are some resources which have enhanced and increased my study sessions:

  1. Evernote – this instrument has revolutionized my life since I first starting using it 2 years ago. With its combination of the desktop version, mobile version, and internet version, you can take your notes wherever you go. Evernote has allowed me to collect all of my online research notes into folders pertaining to subject. Further, the tagging feature makes it easy to find subjects you have lost track of. It is my go to source for cataloguing research and ideas.
  2. StudyBlue – an incredible note taking system I have used in many classes. One of the fantastic features of this site is that it allows you to change your notes into flash cards with which you can quiz yourself in a distraction free setting. At the end of your rotation of cards, it calculates the percentage you would most likely get if you were to take the test at that moment (certainly aids in tracking progress). Oh, and the added bonus? It syncs with Evernote!
  3. Songza – My go to music concierge. Find the playlist to match your activity at any time of day. (It is also advertisement free, so forget Pandora.)
  4. French Press Coffee, Arabic Coffee or Tea – These are the three beverages of choice which I consume (probably in copious amounts) during my studies. There is just something about a warm, flavorful beverage that keeps me alert and on task.
  5. A wide range of music – My music library has been dubbed ‘schizophrenic’ since I have such a wide range of music genres. I listen to just about anything worth listening to. This prevents me from getting in a rut and allows me to tailor my environment to the need of my study session. I highly suggest developing a broad taste in music, not only so you can provide music for any event occasion, but also that you may enhance your study time.

These are a few of the things that help me study best. I hope that it helps you whether you are in your bachelors degree, masters degree, or studying for personal enrichment.

It is time for me to return to my research. Have a great Fourth of July!

From the Desk,

Mr. Bluebaugh