Category Archives: Education

Bruce finished his career as a K-12 educational assessment consultant and holds a Ph.D. in Education Research and Evaluation.

2015/06/30 (T) Three Score and Five

Today was a milestone birthday for Linda.  We had our usual leisurely early morning with coffee, fresh fruit, and cinnamon raisin toast (from Metropolitan Baking) for breakfast.  We talked some more about our long-term ham radio plans and decided we would order one (1) of the new Yaesu FTM-400DR/DE dual band mobile radios and a slightly more powerful VHF/UHF base station antenna.  Our daughter called around 9 AM to wish her many happy returns of the day.  My Michigan Public School Employee Retirement System (MPSERS) health insurance shifted her to secondary, with Medicare as primary on June 1st, the first day of the month in which she turned 65.

The temperature was in the low 60’s when we got up at 6:30 AM.  The weather forecast for the afternoon had an increasing chance of rain and the possibility of isolated thunderstorms so Linda went for a mid-morning walk.  I headed to my office to order the radio and a Diamond X-300NA 2m/70cm antenna.  All of the online distributors are selling the radio for the same price.  I decided to buy both products plus the RTSystems programming software, from Amateur Electronic Supply (AES).  Their UPS Ground shipping is “free” and since they are based in Ohio the shipment will be here in 1-2 days rather than 4-5 days.

I took a break and spread three more bags of brick pieces around the base of the tower and in front of the cable entry box.  Back in my office I dealt with some personal e-mail.  I sent an e-mail to Scott (KE9FOX) at with additional information he needed to transfer the SLAARC website and domain name registration from GoDaddy to  I then gathered up a load of laundry and put it in the washer.

By the time that was all done it was getting close to lunch time.  Lunch was a big spinach and lettuce salad, baby carrots, a few sourdough pretzel nibblers with roasted red pepper hummus, fresh sweet cherries, and the blueberries/strawberries/raspberries that were left from breakfast.

After lunch I transferred the laundry to the clothes dryer and then got cleaned up.  We left around 3 PM for the U.S. Bar and Grill in Wayne and stopped on the way to get a card.  Today was John Smallwood’s last day at Wayne RESA and there was a gathering from 3-to-6 PM to see him off.  John was the VP of the Wayne County Salaried Staff Federation (WCSSF) and succeeded me as President of the local when I retired.  Now it was John’s turn to enjoy a well-earned and well-deserved retirement.  This was the second gathering for a colleague in the span of just over a month.  Besides wishing John well it was an opportunity to reconnect with other former colleagues.

After a suitable amount of time visiting at John’s party Linda and I drove to the Mongolian Barbecue in Novi for a celebratory birthday dinner.  It is a very noisy restaurant but was not as bad on a Tuesday evening as it was the last time we were here on a Saturday.  I would have preferred a quieter and more relaxing atmosphere, but the Mongolian Barbecues have a lot of ingredients that we can eat and we find the method of preparation very much to our liking.  By the time we had a small bowl of soup, a moderate sized salad, and a good size bowl of ingredients we were full.

I had a brief QSO with Chris (K8VJ) on the drive home.  I stopped at the Shell station and topped off the gas tank in my car so we would be ready to go in the morning.  We finally got home at 8:30 PM.  Linda made some hot tea and we each had a piece of Prickly Pear Cactus Jellied Candy.  I restarted the dryer on Touch Up and checked my e-mail.  We were tucked in by 10 PM as we needed to be on the road by 7:30 AM tomorrow.


2014/09/19 (F) Renewed Acquaintance

After I installed iOS8 on my iPad2 yesterday morning my Logitech Bluetooth keyboard seemed to change its behavior, giving me double letters in some cases and feeling a little sluggish in its response.  The keyboard itself has not changed, so I presume this has something to do with iOS8.  I also presume the keyboard batteries have not run down already, but I suppose that is a possibility.  If so, I will be replacing them once a week.  While creating an image gallery for the SLAARC WordPress website last night I noticed that the drag and drop feature of the gallery editor did not work.  I upgraded to WP Version 4.0 about a week ago but this was the first time I had tried to use the gallery feature.  If there is a problem with this feature there is no way that I am the first person to discover it and I presume WordPress is aware of it.  I find it strange, however, that they have not released a maintenance update fixing it since an improved and more visual editor was a major feature of the 4.0 release.

A few weeks back I re-established contact through Linked-In with a colleague from 10 years ago.  Jim was Director of General Education Services at Livingston Educational Service Agency at the time and we went through NCA Ambassador training together.  It turns out that he lives and works in the Brighton area, so we are now neighbors of sorts.  He suggested we meet up for coffee and I finally called him this morning to arrange that.  We both had time at 1:30 PM today and agreed to meet at the Panera on Grand River Avenue by I-96 at that time.

Linda got the new Global Bake bakery software installed on her laptop yesterday so this morning she was able to start working on the software conversion process in earnest.  Her work requires a lot of concentration, and she gets very focused when doing it, so I went to my office to continue working on editing blog posts and photos.

In checking my e-mail I noticed that I was still getting failed login attempts from foreign countries on this site and on the FMCA GLCC website, which is sub-domain of this site, in spite having installed the premium (paid) version of the Wordfence Security plug-in.  I looked at the installed plug-ins for the GLCC website and discovered that I had one named “Limit Login Attempts” that I did not have installed on our personal website or the other two sites I manage.  I surmised that this plug-in might be doing just what the name implied and in the process preempting Wordfence from ever doing its job.  I deactivated it and saw a reduction in failed attempts, with none from outside North America, suggesting that the country blocking feature of Wordfence was now working properly.  I saw a similar drop in failed login attempts on our personal website when I activated the country blocking feature for all countries except the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.  Only time will tell, however, if Wordfence is indeed blocking login attempts from outside North America.

We had hummus and apples for lunch after which I hung up one load of laundry and put another load in the washer.  I left at 1 PM to have time to stop at Best Buy to get something to clean our various touch screens and monitors.  Traffic was very heavy in the I-96 and Grand River Avenue shopping area, but Best Buy is in the same shopping complex as the Panera, so I made it there on time.  Jim and I talked for almost two hours and which covered the highlights of the last eight years.

Back home I kept my focus on getting the blog caught up.  Linda wrapped up her work for the day and we finished the bottle of Alpha Rose from Red Trail Vineyards while she fixed a simple but tasty dinner of vegan burgers and corn.  I got a call from Butch letting me know that the company in Nevada had arranged for a semi and taken all of the parts they plan to take.  Everything that is left is Butch and Fonda’s to do with as they please.  The important thing for us is that I can now take our bus down there at my convenience.  I would like to get all of the natural gas related work taken care of and put the finishing touches on the garage project before I move the bus, but I may go ahead and move it next week if the scheduling of contractors works out.

During the evening I had an exchange of TXT messages with Chuck.  He had ordered some miniature 24VDC light bulbs (1829s) that are used in our bus dashboards and the order had arrived.  Rather than go to his shop after breakfast tomorrow we arranged to meet him for dinner tomorrow night.  I also got a call from Michele Henry of Phoenix Paint.  She had a new customer who just bought a mid-1990’s Prevost XL converted coach and she gave him my name and phone numbers in case he had any questions about the rig.  We agreed that we would try to find time during the GLCC Surplus and Salvage a Rally to work on the article I started last year about the process she used to repair the body and roof of our coach, seal and coat the roof, and paint the body.  We capped off the evening with the second to last episode of Season 5 of Doc Martin. We need to return the DVDs to the Howell Library on Sunday, so we want to make sure we get through all of the episodes for Season 5.


2014/07/25 (F) Assessing The Situation

We finally got a letter yesterday from Consumer’s Energy requesting payment of the $200 fee for hanging the natural gas meter.  The letter included a rough drawing showing where the meter will be located (south end of the east side of the house where the propane currently enters).  It also shows the route the gas line will take to get there from the opposite side of the street.  The drawing did not correctly show our pull-through driveway in relation to the house, so the actual path will be different.  This was also the first indication we’ve had that the main line will be run down the opposite side of the street, which we prefer over running down our side of the street.

At 9:15 AM we still did not have any landscape workers on site so I went to my office to continue working on assessment items.  No one from Village Landscape Development showed up today and we never got a phone call.  It’s a way of doing business that I simply do not understand.

I finally got around to making my annual appointment with my dermatologist only to find out he is still on medical leave.  I didn’t know he was on medical leave in the first place.  They scheduled me with someone else in the same clinic.

After lunch I had a nice chat with our financial advisor / stock broker at Stifel-Nicholas even though we just saw him three weeks ago.  We got a post card a few days ago indicating that he and his assistant were moving to a different S-N office.  He had not mentioned this when we met in person so we wanted to see what the reason was for the move, which he gladly explained.  No cause for concern on our part, which left me free to worry about other things instead.

As long as I was making phone calls I called Butch to see how things were coming along following the sale of a large portion of their business assets to a company in Nevada.  They still have a lot of loose ends to tie up and a bus conversion to finish, so they are not sitting on their hands.  When the buyers were there a week ago they loaded up as many parts and as much material as they could transport in the vehicles they had, but by Butch’s estimate it wasn’t 20% of the total.

I also had a series of TXT messages with Joe Cannarozzi, the mobile mechanic who has taken care of our bus the last four years.  Joe is relocating from Chicago, Illinois to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and giving up the mobile aspect of his bus repair business.  Apparently his new place has a garage where he will continue to work on rigs, but they will have to come to him.  I hope that works out for him, but it leaves us having to find a mechanic closer to home or willing to travel here.

I finished writing the assessment items for the three remaining Michigan Assessment Consortium Common Assessment Development modules and got all seven sets of items e-mailed to the team.  With that task checked off, at least until I get some feedback, I was free to go to Lowe’s after dinner and pick up some of the materials I need for the HVAC projects in the garage.  There’s a better than even chance that we will not go to our ham radio club breakfast tomorrow in favor of an early start on the garage work.


2014/07/24 (R) Back To Work

We were up earlier than normal.  Linda went into the bakery today and likes to be on the road ahead of the worst of the morning traffic rush.  Since she was working I figured it was a good day for me to also do some paid work (plus a couple of loads of laundry).  Earlier in the summer I agreed to write assessment items for some of the modules in the Michigan Assessment Consortium professional development series on Common Assessment Development.  The items are needed for use with the Lectora platform, which Bill Heldmyer at Wayne RESA is using to re-package the modules.  These are modules that other team members developed, so I have to spend some time with the content before I can write the items.

I did some work on this in June and then got busy with contractors and out-of-town trips.  I am still tied up with construction, contractors, and other projects but a timely completion for this work would be early August so I spent much of today working on it.  I already had one module done and hoped to finish the other six but only managed to complete three of them.  I am anxious to get back to work on the HVAC prep in the garage but I plan to continue working on the assessment items tomorrow as I would like to e-mail them to the team for feedback before the end of the day.

I have a lot going on at the moment.  I like being busy, but this is starting to feel like “work.”  I have a growing list of “must do” bus projects that I have yet to start:  1) fogged window replacement; 2) auxiliary air filter / water separator replacement; 3) Aqua-Hot expansion reservoir replacement; 4) Aqua-Hot exhaust leak repair; 5) motorized windshield shade repair; 6) finishing the installation of the ZENA power generator (for charging the house battery bank while driving), and; 7) redoing the water bay (that’s a big one).  I have an optional project to replace the rear view camera system.

Butch is building new ride height linkages for his bus and wants to build some for me as well, so that makes nine “bus projects” I would like to accomplish before the weather turns too cold to work outside.  Some of these are projects I can do with the bus in front of the house once I can move it back into its normal parking spot.  The rest are things I will work on once I get it down to Butch and Fonda’s place in Twelve Mile, Indiana, probably this September.

The FMCA education committee work is ramping up and I have three websites I am trying to launch, one of which has an August 11 target date, plus our own website/blog to maintain (as of this writing I am over two weeks behind on blog posts).  I am also supposed to be writing a “featured bus” article for Bus Conversion Magazine on Marty and Pat Caverly’s MCI MC-5B conversion “Scooby Doo & Bookworm.”  It’s a great conversion that has taken 20 + years to build and will be the cover/centerfold story when it is published.  I have 1,500 photos from Marty and the only way I will make sense of the project is to sit down with Marty, select images, and make notes.  Once I have a sense of the chronology of the work, and the images to illustrate it, I can weave the words together to tell the story.

Kyle and Spencer were here working on the landscaping for most of the day.  Steve stopped by in the morning to go over the work from yesterday and outline the work for today.  It’s coming along, albeit much more slowly than I think it should.  For a job that requires a lot of manual labor we normally only have two guys on site, sometimes three and sometimes only one.  And, sad to say, they simply do not work as hard and as persistently when Steve is not here.

Linda got home ahead of the afternoon traffic.  We had leftover potato and lentil curry and naan for dinner and both the dish and the bread were still excellent.  A few black grapes and dark, sweet cherries for desert and we were off to bed early.


2014/07/14 (M) Education

Linda was up at 6 AM and was out the door and on her way to Twelve Mile, Indiana at 6:30 AM.  She decided last night not to have breakfast at home in favor of getting on the road.  I slept in and got up at 7:30 AM.  Lind’s homemade granola made for an easy, tasty breakfast.

Two landscapers showed up a little before 9:00 AM as I was getting ready to leave to run some errands and said Steve was on his way, so I stuck around until he got there.  We looked at a few things together and then I left.

On the way home from running my errands I got a call from TOMTEK reminding me that we have an annual service contract with them for the main house furnace (hot-water base-board heat) and air-conditioner.  I agreed to have them come on Thursday to service the A-C.  Perhaps while they are here they can figure out why it makes a noise that sounds like the thump, thump, thump of a helicopter blade.

About a mile from the house I spotted a small Painted Turtle trying to cross Hacker Rd.  A truck going the other way spotted it at the same time.  We both turned around and came back.  I got there first and put it on the front passenger floor mat after assuring the other driver that I was going to take it to our property and release it near the (neighbor’s) pond.  Turtles have very little chance of successfully crossing a road most places, including around here.

The two landscapers worked into the afternoon.  They could only go so far before needing Steve to inspect and approve their work.  He did not make it back today and I think they quit working around 3 PM.

Education is what I did professionally for the last 21 years before I retired, and I am still doing it to some small extent.  Back in the late winter I agreed to serve on a newly reconstituted FMCA national education committee.  There are 6 – 10 people on the committee, depending on how you count, and except for a couple of staff at FMCA headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio we are spread out all over the U. S.  Our meetings are, therefore, conducted by telephone conference with ideas and information shared via e-mail in-between.  I also set up a folder in our personal Dropbox as a place to put documents so the committee can retrieve them.

We had our third meeting today from 4:00 to 5:30 PM EDT.  I spent the rest of the evening creating an outline of a possible RV curriculum and dealing with e-mail related to our meeting.  Linda got home at 8:00 PM and we had leftovers for dinner, after which I returned to my work and she headed to bed.

I have one, maybe two, days to concentrate on desk tasks.  Once the Pack-Rat storage container arrives on Wednesday I will be tied up with house-related chores through the 19th and then company through the 23rd.  I expect delivery of some HVAC equipment and materials during that window.  With any luck Darryll will be here starting on the 24th and I will be tied up working with him through the end of the month.  I’m hopeful, if not optimistic, that the landscapers will also be done with their two projects by the end of the month.


2014/05/06 (T) RESA Redux

While we were in Florida I spent a little time working on an extension of a project I was deeply involved in the couple of years prior to my retirement.  The Michigan Assessment Consortium (MAC), of which I was a founding board member, sponsored the development of a series of modules for educators on how to develop and use “common assessments.”  “Common” in this case meant “shared across multiple classrooms/teachers,” as opposed to other meanings, such as “ordinary” or “numerous.”  The 24 modules were developed as scripted PowerPoint presentations with learning activities and supporting materials.  They were field tested in a workshop setting and revised based on participant feedback and the experience of the presenters.  The modules were then videotaped at Wayne RESA, with each of the development team members narrating the modules on which they were the lead author.  The videotaped modules, along with the PowerPoint files and supporting materials were made available online through MI-StreamNet free of charge.

There has been a continuing interest in this professional development series but recent changes in the rules for continuing education units (CEUs) required that the modules be repackaged in order to qualify.  Wayne RESA made a decision a few years ago to train some staff members in the Lectora software for creating online courses.  Some staff time became available and RESA approached the MAC and suggested the use of Lectora to repackage the assessment modules to meet the new CEU requirements.  One of those requirements was for assessments that validate the learner’s engagement with the content.  The existing modules did not include such assessments so the original authors were contacted to see if they would develop test items for their modules.  That is how I came to spend some time this winter writing test items.

Kathy Dewsbury-White, the President of the MAC, had arranged to meet today with Ken Schramm (Manager of TV & Media Production) and Bill Heldmyer, TV Producer/Director extraordinaire) to discuss the project.  She asked me to come along, and that is how I came to spend the day at Wayne RESA, from which I retired in June 2012.  There was a MAC sponsored video conference at 10 AM so while Kathy attended to that I roamed the halls of my former place of employment to see who was around.  All told I was able to visit briefly with a dozen or more people and with another half dozen a little longer.  When the video conference was over we grabbed lunch with Ken.  When we got back to RESA we worked with Bill in his editing suite on how we wanted certain aspects of the modules to work.  Kathy and I then worked our way back to Brighton through the afternoon rush hour traffic.

I talked to Butch (W9MCI) on the phone in the evening.  He had spoken directly to International Thermal Research about their Oasis brand hydronic heating systems and gotten some pricing.  There is a real possibility that our rebuilt Aqua-Hot hydronic heating unit in our motorcoach may have a coolant leak and that the leak is in the combustion chamber.  The evidence for this is an excessive amount of white smoke when the units fires up, if it fires up.  If so, it cannot be field repaired and we would have to get a rebuilt unit to replace the failed rebuilt unit, or get a new unit.  At this point my inclination would be to get a new unit from a different company, like maybe ITR.  I have a low tolerance for the repeated failure of expensive engineered systems.


2014/03/19 (W) Items Of Interest

One the best things I was involved in during my 12 years at the Wayne County Regional Educational Services Agency (Wayne RESA) was a project with the Michigan Assessment Consortium (MAC), which I helped found and on whose Board of Directors I served until shortly before my retirement.  The project was a comprehensive professional development series for K-12 educators on how to develop and use “common assessments” (CAD).  It was developed by a team of seven experts from five agencies and in its final form it had 25 modules consisting of PowerPoint presentations with supporting materials and activities.  The modules were then scripted and presented to a pilot group of about 60 educators in a series of workshops.  Based on feedback from the pilot group, revisions were made and the modules were then videotaped and made available through Wayne RESA’s video streaming service.  While these modules have seen the most use in Michigan, they have been used as far away as Alaska.

Wayne RESA recently approached the MAC with an offer to convert the CAD modules into Lectora lessons that would qualify for continuing education credits under newly revised requirements for online learning.  These requirements included the use of assessment items to demonstrate that learners had actually engaged with the content and understood it.  Lectora, on which I had some training before I retired, is an excellent platform for this type of work with the ability to register students, enroll them in lessons, track their progress through a lesson, administer and score test questions, and report the results.  What was missing, and thus what was needed, were the test items.

Kathy, the MAC Executive Director and a member of the CAD project team, contacted the other project team members (including me) to see what we thought and ask if we would be willing to develop the needed items.  The team said “yes,” because that’s the kind of people they are, and the work began.  Today I received items for review for at least six modules from two different team members.  After providing feedback on those items I wrote items for the four modules I had developed and sent them out for review.  A good day’s work, and satisfying to have my head “back in the game” for a few hours.