What is the Surfaquarium?
A long, long time ago...The Surfaquarium began back in 1995 as I was discovering online resources and bookmarking them for my classroom use. Very quickly these bookmark files became huge - the Internet was a gold mine! At the same time I was taking a summer class in HTML coding (no there were no HTML editors to speak of back then) and I quickly decided it would be worth my while to place all my bookmarks on web pages that could be hosted by my school webmaster. That way I (and my students) could access the resources I had found and categorized from any computer that had an Internet connection. The name I came up with was the Surfaquarium; a place where students and colleagues could surf safely within a contained educational environment. The name's had staying power!
In an ocean far, far away...
I look back at those early days and how simple those web pages were. I had no background in graphic design and I just played and played with all the different backgrounds, bullets, animations and .wav files I could get my hands on. Still, it was mine and I was proud of it, never hesitating to share the URL with others.
There quickly became a need to host these pages myself if for no other reason than I could update and upload the files whenever I needed. So I attended a meeting of a local ISP and learned what I needed to do to get my own dial-up 28.8 connection. The next thing I knew I was up and running, wriitng my own code.
A couple of pages became dozens very quickly; it became my medium and I was hooked. This became the Innovative Teaching portion of the Surfaquarium. This led to my Innovative Teaching Newsletter to promote my teaching pages. Little did I realize that the newsletter would become a bigger draw than the website itself!
Within a year or two I started presenting at conferences, first regionally then nationally, sharing resources I had found online and ideas I had for utilizing them in instruction. I met other like-minded professionals; it is an amazing time to be in education! My site was evolving because I was measuring it against those of my peers.
The same can be said of my multiple intelligences pages. In my own classrooms, I had implpemented everything from MI lessons to entire semester-long MI units. And in my later years, I sponsored a year-long MI study in which students learned about their own MI profiles culminating in an MI Olympics at the end of each school year. So, by the time I actually heard Howard Gardner in person, I was a disciple. Colleagues started taking notice of the things that I was doing with my students, and the next thing I knew I was being invited within my school system and later to other school districts to present on the implementation of MI theory in instruction. My MI pages are a natural extension of the training I do with teachers face to face. I love the way teachers light up as they make connections between Gardner and their own experience with human intelligence, computer applications, and ultimately teaching and technology. Today my MI pages get more hits than any other part of the Surfaquarium!
Somewhere in the mix I discovered HTML editors, which was a good thing, because cascading style sheets and new Web coding conventions were getting to be a little more than I had time to handle in code. Over time the conference presentations and teaching online impacted on the evolution of the web site to the point where I now offer much of what I have to offer through the Surfaquarium. With many of the best resources online being bought up by corporations, I am glad to continue to host the Surfaquarium as an independent voice for teachers that puts teachers first. The goal is to provide a non-commercial exchange of ideas and resources. Whether you work with me face to face, online, or you simply want to take advantage of all that is housed here, I'm glad you have made the Surfaquarium a stop during your cyber travels!
"I have heard Howard Gardner speak on multiple intelligences theory, but I have never heard him speak with Walter's passion and conviction!"
-Alan November, November Learning Senior Partner & Founder; Marblehead, Massachusetts
"I want to share a very special thank you, Walter. Your perspective, depth of knowledge, and grasp of the transformative direction of education provides our board with first class support! You are always a steadfast and responsive resource for our affiliate. I want you to know that I very much appreciate your leadership and I look forward to our continued working together."
-Sharron Zoeller, Board President, California ASCD; Sacramento, California
"I have had the pleasure of connecting both virtually and face to face with Walter and I respect his ability to think deeply about teaching and learning and his skill at asking challenging and thought-provoking questions. He provides a unique and important voice to the education community."
-Mary Beth Hertz, Technology Coordinator at Science Leadership Academy @ Beeber; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
"Walter helped get me started in online learning way back before the turn of the century. I appreciated his leadership at Connected University. When he asked me to work with him at ASCD on ways to support online distribution of Common Core materials and ideas I jumped at the opportunity. I knew that any project that Walter was directing would be one worth my time and interest. As always I learned a lot during the consultation work with Walter and ASCD. As expected Walter is the consummate leader. His organizational skills are exceptional. His grasp of educational technology, online learning, teacher professional development, inspired everyone on the development team. Anytime Walter calls, I answer. I recommend Walter to anyone who wants to get a first class job done right."
-Dennis O'Connor, University of Wisconsin-Stout Online Instructor and Course Developer; Menomonie, Wisconsin
"Walter is first and foremost a person who has the ability to bring people together to collaborate in a positive solution thinking manner. He was always looking for the best possible way to accomplish a goal even if that meant having to take a step back first. Working for Walter helped me greatly, in understanding the bigger picture of the school systems and how IT related to it. I would without hesitation work for him again."
-Monty Hitschler, Director of Technology; Rockport, Massachusetts
"Walter is an exceptional executive leader! Besides being incredibly intelligent, he is a considerate and thoughtful leader. He is a seasoned executive with strong technical, business and leadership skills. He has a tremendous work ethic, a high-level of integrity, and always focuses his attentions on what is best for the organization. Walter keeps an open door policy and never makes anyone feel as though they can not speak openly and honestly with him.This invites innovation into his organization. Walter understands all aspects of what it takes to lead an organization, from conceptual vision and strategy formulation to tactical execution. In addition, he is a visionary with technology, implementing the framework today to prepare for the future needs and success of the organization. His exercises with "Emotional IQ" and "Good to Great" helped the entire IT Organization. I highly recommend Walter. He is a dynamic leader and would make a great asset to any organization."
-Girish Rajput, Arlington Public Schools Director of Enterprise Solutions; Arlington, Virginia
"Walter McKenzie is a talented collaborative educator and dedicated professional. I have known and worked with Walter for over ten years. I met Walter while he was President of the Massachusetts Computer Using Educators. I presented at several conference sessions for Walter and had the honor of sharing the MassCUE Pathfinder Award with him. Although Walter left New England for at ASCD he always stayed connected with his colleagues in New England. I was fortunate to receive an invitation from Walter to participate with group of talented educators in an ASCD think tank in Washington DC. This session was to assist ASCD map out the technologies and practices that will best serve educators in accessing and implementing resources in support of the Common Core State Standards. It was an outstanding two-day event where Walter was able to bring together a group of talented educators to share and collaborate. I was honored to be part of this session. In every capacity in which I have worked with Walter McKenzie, I have found him to be a leader for educational technologies statewide and nationally. I would highly recommend Walter for any professional opportunity for which he has applied. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance. "
-Mary Marotta, Nashoba Regional High School Instructional Technology Teacher; Bolton, Massachusetts
"Walter is instrumental in providing the new vision for ASCD and its meaning in terms of supports for educators and kids. The five Communities of Excellence impact our planning and mesh beautifully with the work of the New Jersey affiliate. Throughout any given year, Walter is our “go to” ASCD connection to provide information and support for our reputable work in the state. We would not be as effective without his service and willingness to always be available and support us."
-Marie Adair, Executive Director, New Jersey ASCD; Monroe Township, New Jersey
"During his relatively short tenure as Asst. Superintendent, Walter has completely reorganized the Department of Information Services enabling it to be more responsive to the technology and information needs of Arlington Public Schools teachers and administrators. This includes improving services offered by the Help Center, encouraging Information Services staff members to treat all APS customers in a respectful and highly responsive manner, and bringing in several new key staff members to over see the daily operations of the department. Finally he has provided management staff with training designed to assist them in better managing their areas of responsibility and to enhance the services provided by their respective units"
-Jim Carroll, Director of Technology, Arlington Public Schools; Arlington, Virginia
"Walter McKenzie is a gifted educator with a powerful vision for teaching and learning that embraces technology to inspire, motivate, engage, and assess. With an incredible insight into instruction, Walter helps teachers to understand the learning task, use all the tools at their disposal to address it, and engage meaningfully with students to drive achievement. At Connected University, Classroom Connect's online professional development site, Walter's courses had the high completion rates, the highest teacher satisfaction rates, and the learning outcomes of the professionals were second to none.
Walter is a capable instructional and technology leader. I recommend him highly!"
-Scott Noon, Vice-President, Classroom Connect; El Segundo, California
"Walter was the President of MassCue (Massachusetts Computer Using Educators) when I met him. He provided excellent leadership in that organization and enhanced their expertal communication by having their website enhanced substantially. He also built a strong alliance between MassCue and with ISTE. I was a contributing editor to MassCue's OnCue periodical, in "Emerging Technologies". He managed all the editors and it was a pleasure working with him. He also managed the annual MassCue conference in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. As a member of MassCue, we all miss Walter's leadership and working with him personally on many and varied education technology topics."
-Bill Drury, Professor, University of Massachusetts; Lowell, Massachusetts
"Walter Mckenzie’s background as an educator, author and entrepreneur makes him a manager who sees the big picture as well as the next steps toward success. Employees in his department are the most customer oriented people in our organization—because he expects nothing less. Walter is a leader with clear vision, high expectations, and the courage of his convictions. It is a pleasure to work with him."
-Alice Hixson, Director of Research and Opportunities at New Thing Art Studio; Kansas City, Missouri
"Many folks know Walter as the energizer bunny of social media. I also know him as someone who makes me think, laugh and cry (often at the same time). Most importantly, someone who keeps me focused on what matters most in education - children and teachers."
-Mark Weston, Ed Tech Thought Leader and Author; Estes Park, Colorado