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©2017 Walter McKenzie



About the Surfaquarium

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!

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. A couple of pages became dozens very quickly, all done by authoring code in the page source, mind you. It became my medium and I was hooked. This became the Innovative Teaching portion of the Surfaquarium.

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. My site was evolving because I was measuring it against other professionals I would meet at conferences. I also began a free weekly newsletter to promote my web site. Little did I realize that the newsletter would become a bigger draw than the web site itself!

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, in my later years as a teacher actually sponsoring 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. 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 the MI pages get more hits than any other part of the Surfaquarium!

Somewhere in the mix I discovered HTML editing which was a good thing, because cascading style sheets and new Web 2.0 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!