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Preview: matthew's blog

matthew's blog

tech finds, education musings, and spiritual awakenings

Updated: 2014-10-03T01:12:58.361-04:00


Peace out


After many, many years and lots of blogs, I've decided to move on over to Wordpress

Blogger Fail.

I'm also collapsing all of my web presence stuff to - and I'm condensing it all there.  Check it out!

An awesome quote that I have to put somewhere so I don't forget it!


I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element.  It is my personal approach that creates the climate.  It is my daily mood that makes the weather.  I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous.  I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration; I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.  In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person humanized or de-humanized.  If we treat people as they are, we make them worse.  If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming. – Goethe

(Pulled from @evbogue's blog at

Reflections on an iPad


Here it is! The iPad. Yesterday I picked up my 64GB, wi-fi enabled iPad from NCSU - where I'm doing my graduate work in instructional technology. I've only had it for about 12 hours... but it is already challenging me to rethink the way I handle computing.

My first struggle was having to plug it into iTunes and letting it sync up before actually being able to get my hands on it. That took forever because I forgot to uncheck that little box that says "transfer everything under the sun including all of those old useless apps you had on your iPhone" before I clicked the sync button. So I sat, for what seemed like an hour, watching those apps load. I know I could have stopped it, but this being my first time syncing an iPad - I wanted to err on the side of transferring everything rather than not enough.

Fast forward to me on the couch last night going app by app (I had well over 5 full pages of apps) trying to figure out which ones work on the iPad and which ones look funny. Don't get me wrong - it was enjoyable getting to simply touch the iPad... over and over and over again...

So far the iPad is really challenging the way I think about my computing habits. What do I rely on my iPad for? Where does my iPhone fit in? My poor little Macbook is in my bag looking lonely now!

Will try to keep posting thoughts and reflections on here as I learn and experience more with the iPad. Who knows where this will end up!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

We're abroad (again)


If you're reading this then Rikus (@fjkrugerross) and I (@mjkrugerross) are off in London/Paris from March 10 - March 22.  This trip is both work and play as it is serving as the foundational research I'm conducting on technology and study abroad experiences.  And we're going to Paris - so there has to be a little fun.

If you want to follow along, check our Twitter feeds.  That's probably what we'll be updating the most. :)

Where's the action at?


Those of you who end up here first may wonder where the action is at? Why doesn't Matthew write more?

Well, why I don't is another post altogether that I'll never probably get around to writing. But there are big things happening in the other projects I'm involved in.

My personal website - - Just did a redesign (thank you iWeb)

Twitter - - I do try my best to tweet regularly

SylvanCary - - ah, the 9-5...

Paris Arts 2010 - - big things happening here! Headed to Paris from 3/10-3/22 for research on technology and study abroad experiences. Should be tweeting about it as well.

ECI 517 - - my blog for one of the graduate courses I'm taking. At least I write there every week. :)

Upcoming grad classes


One of my constant goals is to write more... and with technology this means blog more.

Fortunately for me, this semester I will be forced to blog more with my two online grad courses!

Here's the link to one of my course blogs. Thought some might enjoy. Pretty sparse right now... but surely more to come.


On mathematical websites


A piece I wrote and is currently posted on Sylvan Cary's site:, if not all, of us have found ourselves faced with a math problem that falls in that gray area within our brains where we thought we stored all of that incredibly fascinating information we learned in high school and college yet somehow we just can't access it anymore. However, thanks to new technologies and the internet, there is another ray of hope (in additional to purchasing "Trigonometry for Dummies"). Two websites. One you may never have heard of, the second - oh, you've heard of that one alright.The first is This site is like the Google of numbers and data. Sure you can go to Google and type in 124 + 37 and it will do the math for you, but WolframAlpha will really solve the problem for you. Head on over and type in x+2=8. A simple equation. But click submit button (it looks just like an equals sign) and poof! - you'll be looking at the solution, the steps to solve the equation, and even a graph. And it doesn't just work for simple equations - try something a bit more difficult like y=cosx+(1/3)pi and think don't blink because as soon as you click the equals sign, there the answer will be.It doesn't just work for mathematic equations. Type in your birthday and see what comes up. After that type ask WolframAlpha a question. Like, "What's the weather in San Diego?" Once you've picked your jaw up off of the keyboard, come back and read on.For more information on WolframAlpha see the video embedded below - or visit the site itself.The second site is Yes, really! Go on over to YouTube and type in "solving quadratic equations" and see how many results you get. People are not just using YouTube to post videos of their cats anymore and they are really posting some useful stuff. You will have to do some sorting at times until you get to a good, reliable source, but it's worth it.There you have it! When I'm struggling to remember a concept that's long been lost somewhere in the depths of my brain, these two sites are the first places that I visit. Enjoy![...]

Google Wave


I'm on Google Wave! My invite took long enough but I'm finally in and part of the cool kids club. Now I'm trying to figure out how in the world to use it and learn all that it can do... not to mention finding others who are on Wave already!

Seriously loving Google. :)

Write, or die, Matthew.


I am a killer procrastinator. I'm hoping that none of my prior students happen to run across this post - but I just have to say that I'm a prime candidate for some sort of therapy group whereby members come and confess their procrastination tactics. Currently I've taken a shower (there's no reason to shower yet this early in the day given my to-do list), watched a Barefoot Contessa, started laundry (and I sorted it as well - which I never do), checked my Reader 20 times and TweetDeck the same, and have still yet to start on the work that I know needs to be done.I'm in Qualitative Methods at NC State this semester and we've been given the task of (surprise, surprise) completing a qualitative research project. My passions and brains and innards have been absolutely lit throughout the entire process - I love doing the research. I love the lit review. It seems like a wonderfully unplanned, never-ending treasure hunt. The more you read and search, the more you find to read and search. Hrm. That sounds like a philosopher's quote from something I may have read in the past month...I do my best thinking when I'm not really engaged the tasks that I'm supposed to be doing. That's right, I'm a shower-thinker. Recently my showers have actually become so long that I run out of hot water. But something about the having nowhere else to be and an activity that I can do in my sleep (is so rote, I mean to say) creates the space where I can get to these incredibly deep thoughts (or so I think in my just awoken-stupor) - and sometimes insightful moments of clarity.So I should be doing the "meat" of my research right now... filling out IRB forms and finalizing my proposal and polishing my bibliography... but I think I may have reached a point of over-saturation. Past the point of actually being able to produce knowledge via writing - maybe I read too much?! Too many thoughts in my brain to try and piece them together into a cohesive argument (or at least linear, logical thoughts processes)?I know that my writing-lethargy is mostly self-induced. I probably have read a bit too much, not written/journaled enough. I know that my mind in it's constant worrying banter has scared me into thinking that the work that I want to do can't be done, that there own't be enough time. This blog post (I think) is meant to jog my mind and my fingers out of its cathartic state.The research that I'm doing (or about to do, or I've already done, or I'm in the process of doing... who can tell?!) is on Twitter and late adolescence and identity and public vs. private... mix all of those in a bowl plus a month's worth of reading and you've got the state of my mind! There are two recent revelations that I've had that probably won't come as revelations to those who know me and read this (and maybe to those who don't know me and read this as well).1) The research that I am doing emanates from a place deep within myself that is uncertain about how I am living my own life, defining my own identity via digital media. In this way my research questions are really about furthering my own understanding about how my friends, family and self are living out their lives online and offline.2) I am inherently afraid of that which I do not fully understand and comprehend - and while I love technology and digital media and social media and the like - at the root of my being there is fear about how and why I choose to live my life online. This second point is the subject of a much longer piece of writing that I'm just now beginning to form in my mind. Ultimately it revolves around a number of questions that point to things I'm afraid of - things that are not technology-based but are (I believe) based in the human experience.Just a snapshot of some of these questions...How much of my life should be lived online?What kinds of things are appropriate to sha[...]

The Down and Dirty about RSS (from March 2006)


Back when I first discovered RSS and really threw myself into all of this Web 2.0 nonsense I started blogging my math classes. My math class blogs started a domino effect at the school where I taught, Carolina Friends School - a technology domino effect. Ian Jukes would say that it was the "committed sardine" effect. Things got so big and so cool that I teamed with a colleague and started offering tech sessions for staff members in other units and eventually we took our knowledge on the road! This led to an article in Middle Ground, one of the publications of the National Middle School Association, in their most recent issue. (You'll have to hunt down a middle school teacher and borrow their August 2009 issue, turn to page 32 and you'll find it: "Going Blog Wild". Or you can look at the title page on the link above.) Of course now my original blogs are no longer active since I'm no longer in the classroom.But way back when I first started (back in March 2006) I wrote up a piece explaining RSS to parents. I went digging through my external backup hard drive to find it for one of my graduate classes, so I thought I'd share. This piece is what started my blogging movement! Enjoy.RSS: The Nitty-Gritty, The Down-n-Dirty, The... You get the pictureLet's think about RSS in terms of something that is pretty regular and concrete in our minds. Think of a newspaper; maybe the New York Times. You might have checked their website ( ) multiple times a day to keep up to speed with what is happening in the country or world. The fact that we don't have to run out to find a paper boy or a newspaper stand and struggle with correct change already makes it pretty cool that we can access the news online through their website. Oh oh oh--but it can get better!Enter RSS. What many websites and web developers/designers have started to do is embed bits of code that updates itself everytime a particular website is updated. This, in turn, enables a separate program to check the website for you, and in a matter of seconds give you the headlines and a brief description of the article--without you ever having to open a browser or type a thing. If you want to read the full article, all you have to do is click on the title and poof!... your browser of choice will open up to the article.Let me talk about this "code" for a second. There is a language that web developers use to make website and webpages look like the way they do. This is called HTML. If you go to View >> Source in any browser, you can see the "guts" behind any website you open and view.A new coding language has just become popular in the past few months and years called XML. This new language gives power to RSS (which, currently, is most often understood as standing for Really Simple Syndication). Think of RSS as the vehicle and XML as the fuel you put in the vehicle that makes it run.So What's the Big Deal?So, you may be asking, what does this have to do with me? Well, if you only check one website a day for your news and that is all you use the internet for, then this probably won't change your life much.But, if you constantly and consistently check the New York Times, Yahoo News, Google News, NPR, E-Bay, and's a lot of surfing! And now with this new technology, a lot of wasted time and energy!Another reason this is a big deal is that I believe it will help further communication between school and home. The ease with which you can check your news and your favorite websites can now be the ease of checking in on what you did (or what your child did) at school today--all in a matter of seconds. I'm able to do this through using a blog. What's a blog? Keep reading!!BloggingAs an avid reader, a lover of writing and student/researcher of communication, blogging fascinates me. A blog is akin to the old bulle[...]

Mobile blogging?


Alright. Giving mobile blogging a shot now. Just got the new iPhone app. We'll see how this goes now.

I have a great idea for a post about social media and fear. Hopefully I'll be able to sit down and punch it out soon.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone 3G S

Trying again


Alright. This time I'm going to do it. I'm going to be able to actually keep up with my blog. :)

Lots of exciting stuff happening in life right now... and tons of material to write about! Let's see if I can keep it up this time.

from Will Richardson's blog... "sites for learning"


From Deborah Meier on Bridging Differences in what is unquestionably one of the most powerful paragraphs about education I’ve read in a long time:

As long as we use test scores as our primary evidence for being poorly educated we reinforce the connection—and the bad teaching to which it leads. If by some course of action we could get everyone’s score the same—even by cheating—I’d be for it, so we could get on to discussing the interactions that matter in classrooms and schools: between “I, Thou, and It.” I’ve spent 45 years trying, unsuccessfully, to shift the discussion to schools as sites for learning. Such a “conversation” might not produce economic miracles, but it would over time connect schooling to the kind of learning that can protect both democracy and our economy. Because that’s where schools are (or are not) powerful.

Sites for learning. What a concept. (original text)

Social Networking for Parents


Last night Sharon Guillory (tech director at CFS) and I gave our annual (or semi-annual) dog and pony show about social networking for parents. It was a great discussion - a great conversation about how to support and teach our kids to use social networking tools effectively and safely.

For the quick website of a few links I threw together at the last minute, see the MS wiki at:

Get thee to a first grade classroom!


Thursday/Friday was my last Advisee Outing & Service Day at Carolina Friends School (CFS). The staff had decided last year at our end of year meetings that it made more since to combine the advisee outing and service day in the spring since we did service with advisee groups anyways. Plus, many of us overnighted on trips that required us to travel to far off places -- trips that usually meant leaving school at noon to make sure that traveling all of that way seemed a worthwhile event.My group was slated to go camping. Eight advisee outings I've now done and I've never taken my own group camping -- wanted to knock that out on this one. But, we couldn't get our act together -- and I guessed that it just wasn't in the cards.We ended up overnighting at the school, along with three other groups who had decided that traveling a ways away was for the birds. We had a grand time Thursday afternoon and evening. We went to see Monsters vs. Aliens 3D (believe it or not, it was worth the $8 tickets...), went out to eat at Red Robin, got to play Bear and dodgeball with other groups, and even got to stargaze a bit on the soccer field. The talk of the middle school Thursday night, however, was Nick and Crispin's hammocks. My group slept in one room, but the boys wanted to sleep in their hammocks -- and low and behold -- they figure out how to string them up in the hallway of the middle school and slept there! I'll get a picture of them and get it up here soon.I woke up groggy and a bit grumpy when my alarm went off at 6:30a on Friday morning. I hadn't slept well (I don't normally sleep well when I overnight with kids and sleeping on the floor?!) and wasn't looking forward to the lukewarm shower in the Guys Lockerroom up at the gym. But by the time I was flipping bacon in the pan and waking up the rest of the group (and seeing how groggy and grumpy they were) the more and more I perked up. I even recall saying to one of my kids, "Come on! If you have to be up anyways -- why not be happy and cheery and a morning person, ya know?!"If it weren't for the help of my advisee parents, the outing would never have happened. I neglected to request a bus in time, which meant that we relied solely on the wheels of parents to move us around from point A to point B. This meant Coleman (Crispin's mom) got us to the movie, Ginger (Carrie's mom) got us to dinner, and Camille (Anthony's mom) took us to Burlington and back on Friday.Camille and I loaded up the groggy, grumpy kids into our cars and headed to Burlington. On the last service day (back in the fall) I arranged it so that my kids could visit and work with my mom's first graders. It is something I love to do -- connect older kids with younger kids -- because I think it does them both a world of good. The younger ones get some good heroes and people to look up to (and can hopefully realize that they will, indeed, one day become as big and as old as those middle schoolers). The middle schoolers get relive their first grade years, and get to show and use some of that education we've been trusting they've been getting. :)My kids actually asked if we could go back and work with my mom's first graders for this service day! And a sidenote -- my mom teaches at my old elementary school... in the room that I had second grade in! Ha! It's SO weird going back!We got to Elon Elementary around 9:30 on Friday -- and worked solid until we left at 2:15. We read with the first graders, we played PE with another class of young ones, we unpacked and organized the school book fair, we ate lunch with them, we played during playground time, we supported them in their math lesson and finally helped them in their scienc[...]

Whew! Go David!


Just reading this from 2 Cents Worth - David Warlick's blog... so good I had to copy and paste it into my own... (direct quote)

We’re talking about our children...and let’s face it, we’re talking about nothing less than institutionalizing “child labor” to satisfy a failed belief that higher standardized test scores will reliably lead to a stronger economy, more prosperous citizens, and a vibrant democracy. What it leads to is boredom, ca lapsing morale among our best teachers, children without passion, children dropping out, and a growing and prospering testing industry.

from "Let's just put them all in jail 24/7"

In fact, do go back and read the whole thing. It's worth it. Worth WAY more than 2 cents.

On a sidenote, I have no idea where the cents symbol is on my keyboard anymore... how sad is that?

Check this out... using Twitter as a backchannel during classes...


Check out this article [Professor Encourages Students to Pass Notes During Class -- via Twitter], and then take a gander at this video... Interesting approach!

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"getting to know you" by Sally Kempton


In recovery mode after a massive headache this afternoon I started paging through my May 2009 Yoga Journal. (Isn't it funny, I found this Yoga Journal on the kitchen table under bunches of old mail... and it's April 8... and I have the May issue already. Interesting how magazines have the ability to tell the future...)

I stumbled upon two amazing articles that nailed on the head a couple of things that have been roaming around my brain for the past few weeks (read: bugging the heck out of me). The first was called "getting to know you" by Sally Kempton and the other was "he!p wanted" by Phil Catalfo.

Both were very well written but it's the "getting to know you" one that is easiest for me to take notes on. :)

Kempton writes about her quest from her early twenties into that all-encompassing question, "Who am I?" and how her yoga practice led her to discover a new way of thinking about answering that question.

In the Taittiriya Upanishad, an ancient Tantric yoga text, a human being is described as having five sheaths, or koshas, that interpenetrate each other, encasing the soul like the layers of an onion.

She goes on to describe, in detail, the five sheaths:
  1. Annamaya Kosha - the Physical Sheath
  2. Pranamaya Kosha - the Vital Energy Sheath
  3. ManoMaya Kosha - Mental Body
  4. Vijnanamaya Kosha - Wisdom/Awareness Body
  5. Anandamaya Kosha - Bliss Body
I don't know what struck me about the article, other than it gave me a shift in perspective in how I've been looking at things for the past few days. I think you could have guessed that the ultimate goal is to get to #5 - Bliss, and after that, is to be able to move through all of the koshas and feel/recognize each of them at once.

And, shocker, the way to tap into these -- meditation and yoga.

I need to get back on my mat! :)

Google Adds Color in Search


Check out Mashable's article...

The Math Brain Munching Bugs!


Every Spring Break, I do this really funny lesson in each of my math classes on The Math Brain Munching Bugs. AHHH!

In essence, it's my attempt to battle the memory lapse that occurs in a middle schoolers' brain as a result of being out of school for a week. :)

Take a look at the letter (it's the same post on each blog, but each MBMB is different per math level).

Go Mary!


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Blending Learning Environments - Trying out coveritlive...


src="" scrolling="no" height="550px" width="470px" frameBorder ="0" >Blending Learning Environments - When Brick and Mortar and Virtual Meet

Open Street Map


How cool is this?

A Wiki map -- that the whole world can edit! Check it out:

Catching up on good TED's


I must admit it, I've become a TED addict. I even subscribe to their new releases in my reader. :)

On this Sunday morning, I'm going through and watching the newest ones... and posting them here for you to see.