An Inside Look: The Broad

I live 45 minutes away from Downtown Los Angeles and love going there to take pictures whenever I am not teaching. 

I always stop at the Walt Disney Concert Hall snap a few photos of that incredible building. 

Next door is The Broad Museum and it is equally stunning. I have tried taking photos of this building in the past, but they always turned out just like every other photo of the building on Instagram. 

Wanting to take a different type of photo of The Broad, I looked up and took a few photos. 
The original photo was in color and taken with my iPhone 6. 

I used SKRWT to fine tune the top of the building, making it straight. 

Then I used the wonderful black and white app Noir to convert it to black and white. 

Finally I put it into Snapseed to adjust the contrast which made the black get darker. To further highlight the darkness, I added some vignetting.

Middle School Randomness

This is an old post. I am slowly rebuilding my blog from when I forgot to update my blog hosting and lost everything I had written. Thankfully I had it all backed up! This post is from April 2011! Wow! That was a long time ago!

One of the things I appreciate the most about middle school students is their randomness. With that in mind, here is a random story from this week in my classroom.

Each week I have my students complete their Writing Explorations on various topics (e.g. family, entertainment, joy and sadness). Every third or fourth week I give them Free Choice.

Every Monday I have mini conferences with the students and we talk about their Writing Explorations. The discussions are insightful and fun: I actually look forward to Mondays!

Two students in my fourth period class told me they “just wrote random stuff.”  I asked them individually, “What is the most random thing you wrote.”

Puzzled look with the sound of an empty roller coaster.

Repeat question.

Puzzled look morphs into an excited look as they skim through their writing and proudly show off their randomness.

I then had them write the randomness down because it was too funny, and err, random!

By the end of the class period, both students came up and asked if they could have a “Randomness Competition.”

They wanted to challenge each other to see who could write the most random things throughout our Spring Break.  Three pages of Randomness was their self selected challenge.

I love the excitement these two students, who are reluctant writers, have for their challenge. They even suggested I do it for the entire class.

I think I have my “Returning To School On a Monday Morning After a Week Long Break Writing Assignment.

This or That

This is a repost of a previous post that I had lost because I forgot to update my blog hosting!

Education is not a “this OR that” concept; rather it is a “this AND that” concept.

Janus – Roman God of gates, doors, beginning, endings and time.

“Or” is clean.

“And” is messy.

“Or” is obvious.

“And” is nuance.

“Or” is destructive.

“And” is human.

Do you interact with your students the same way you tweet?

Do you eat mashed potatoes AND gravy?

Which word describes your pedagogy in the classroom and tweets on Twitter?

Bands I’d Like To See In Concert While In Their Prime…

Iron Maiden – Powerslave

The Cure – Trilogy

Depeche Mode – Songs of Faith…

Pink Floyd – The Wall or Pulse

Metallica – And Justice for All or Black Album

Weezer – Green Album

Janes Addiction – Ritual De La Habitual or newest one

Opeth – Deliverance or Blackwater Park

Anthrax – Persistence of Time or Worship Music

Spock’s Beard – The Kindness of Strangers (Saw!)

Frank Sinatra – Any time during the 50’s and 60’s

Rush – Moving Pictures

Rush – Clockwork Angels (Saw!)

The Violet Burning – The Violet Burning (Saw!)

Primus – Frizzle Fry

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Ice Cream at Creamistry

I cringe every time I hear someone say they love the icing on a birthday cake instead of the entire dessert. Remember, it is birthday cake, not birthday icing!

I have the same reaction when someone waxes poetic about Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream.

One of my biggest complaints about the Ben and Jerry’s Mafia is that people get excited about everything but the actual ice cream base for any given flavor. I have had countless, sad spoonfuls of oatmeal cookie or waffle cone whenever I eat Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

There should be more ice cream than cookies, candy, or anything else on my spoon!

The Cinnamon Toast Crunch Ice Cream at Creamistry is an outstanding masterpiece.


At first glance, it does look like there is more cereal than ice cream in this cup, but that is deceptive. Every single bite provides more ice cream than cereal with ratio of about 2-1.

Cinnamon and ice cream are not often put together and I do not know why. Ice cream adds a balancing layer to the nuances inherent cinnamon.

Add some Cinnamon Toast Crunch and you have another layer with crunch…

The sugar on the cereal unifies and binds everything together with joy and a sly smile.

The liquid nitrogen used to immediately freeze the ice cream is essentially novelty, bringing a bit of excitement a simple scoop can not provide.

The real star of the show at Creamistry is the entire package: a tasty scoop of ice cream that will remind you of eating cereal in the living room Saturday mornings while sitting on your couch watching Scooby Do with your grandma.

Greatest Hits

Look at any band that has a greatest hits album out and you will hear what’s generally considered their best work. Sure, there are *Deep Cuts* that fans adore and use the lyrics as account bios. 

But think about what is not there.

Every album likely has one or two “Greatest Hits” on it. 
What about the remaining, say eight songs?
This has me thinking about my teaching my daily work in my classroom. 

Has me asking myself: What are my Greatest Hits?

Scenes from Week 1

This was a fun first week of school! Lot’s of positives and any negatives no longer are running through my mind!

First staff photo in a really long time!

My kiddos helping me set up my class!




First day of school for my daughter and my 20th first day of school!


TA watching the women’s Olympic soccer game!


Two former students came by after school today! Thanks for stopping by Jewel and Yuto!


The Photography Interviews: Matthew Needleman

Below is the fifth installment of an ongoing series on photography and those who are doing amazing things with their cameras. I have reached out to many people in my Instagram feed, all who have captured and held my imagination, and asked to interview them about their art. There are teachers and non-teachers in this series, but each one brings something that can be applicable to the classroom.

I encourage you to check out their Instagram feeds and ask them questions!

Matthew Needleman, @needleworks, shares his talents with us in this post. Stellar work. A true professional. When I want to be inspired by composition done right, I head strait to Needleman’s Instagram feed. There is a peaceful silence about his photographs that is unique, even when he shares pictures of inherently loud places.

What is your primary camera and/or camera app (stock camera/Hipstamatic/VSCO…)

\r\nI use Apple’s native camera app 99% of the time.  Camera+ is good when you need separate control over focus and exposure like in a concert.

What are your favorite editing apps?

Instagram, Snapseed, PhotoWizard, Mextures.

What is your favorite picture and story behind it? (Please include or link)? 

My favorite recent photo is this one.

Although the ground was sandy, I cloned the ground up to the sky and made it look like a dessert scene.  I’ve taken several photos at famous landmarks but this was the first time I actually created the setting.

Can you share a tip?

Make sure to consider the entire frame.  Spend a little time editing your photos (enhancing the contrast and popping the color are something I do for almost every photo).  Post only your best work online.

Who and what are your favorite photographers, communities, and hashtags you really enjoy and learn from?

Nicole Dalesio (instagram:  @magrelacanela) was my inspiration to start editing photos and post them on instagram.  Josh Johnson (instagram: @joshjohnson) is a great community to connect with other photographers and get daily inspiration.

Why do you take pictures?

It’s faster than making movies. It helps me express myself and have a journal of moments from my life. Posting pictures on Instagram has helped me connect with others and discover new people and places.

How long do you wait to edit a picture after first taking it AND how long do you wait from when you first take a picture and when you post it.

If I’m at a live event, I try to post a photo as soon as I can because it’s cool to see other people’s photos and feel like you are a part of something larger.  Normally, however, I wait until I get inside to edit and post.  I’ve learned not to post photos when you’re outside because it’s difficult to see how they really look.

Mobile photography in the classroom, any thoughts and/or suggestions?

In my classroom I would follow Josh Johnson’s daily forums and work with students to create work to post to the forum.  Photography supports English Learners in particular to develop vocabulary.  However, all students can benefit from the creativity and the learning the comes from getting instant feedback online by examine which photos get the most likes.

Thanks again Matthew!

Next up…Don\’t know yet! LOL!