Welcome to our sabbatical plans! This site will consist of several blog entries that describe the plans & needs, preparations, family news, supporters, and updates from each place we visit and do fieldwork. I relish your input and support along the way.

Who are we? Marty and Megan Robertson along with Sam (9), Sarah Jane (6), and Emma (3). I am Marty, a sixth grade teacher at Peabody Charter School in Santa Barbara, California. This Ancient Civilizations & Geology sabbatical is my project and travel will begin with the whole family in January 2007. If all goes as planned we will be gone for seven months. Megan is a homeschooling mom and the support crew. She keeps me hopeful through all those moments of doubt. The actual idea of creating this sabbatical was hers. Sam, Sarah Jane, and Emma are the cheerleaders. They are studying up on their Egyptology, Greek mythology and Italian. They are also selling eggs from our chickens for their “Egypt fund!” Needless to say, or write for that matter, we are excited about this trip. See our “Project Description” section for more information about where we are going.

What are we doing? We will be traveling to Egypt, Greece, Italy, France and England collecting video, photos and sounds relevant to the sixth grade studies of geology and ancient civilizations. I will be organizing a curriculum where students will take these clips and retell the histories of Egypt, Greece and Rome utilizing the technologies of PowerPoint and iMovie. I have previously done this by having students retell the geology of our Santa Barbara backcountry by creating a PowerPoint virtual hike up Hot Springs Trail. I am confident that I will return with another great learning experience for Santa Barbara students. See our section titled Project Description for a more detailed account of the project and rationale.

Don't worry too much about the dates on these posts. I use the dates to arrange posts in an order that I think is important, not always in chronological order. Sorry for any confusion!

Thank you!

Without the support of the following people this project would not be taking place.

The NEA Foundation (National Education Association)
The Wharton Foundation, Jeanne Pettitt
Joyce Jacobs
Mary Ausman & Gloria Dunworth
Colleen Russell
Christy Earls
Grace Chisholm
Vijay and Jaylene Jayaraman
Gene and Susie Robertson
Don and Jane Fuller
Rich and Jill Dixon
Steve and Stephanie Hanson
My students and their families for donating Final Cut Express
Mountain Air Sports - Donated my cool backpack!
Mighty Bright reading lights for my kids

Thank you for the gifts and support.

Learning & Leadership NEA Foundation Grant

Great news today (October 18)! I just recieved word from the NEA Foundation (National Education Association) that I am a recipient of a Learning & Leadership Grant. This award is intended to support teachers in their professional development as they improve classroom learning and collaboration with their co-workers. This is a big boost in both finances and morale. Click on this Learning and Leadership link to learn more.

Tickets Purchased

It is Monday, October 16. We just purchased our tickets through STA Travel on Saturday. It was a little nerve racking trying to line up dates with our renters, a friend who will be meeting us in Cairo, and getting the best deal, but I think we did it. Not only were we able tro match up dates, but we were able to get tickets that have a bit more freedom in changing dates should the need arise. We are set to leave on January 8th and will arrive in Cairo on the 9th. We will return on July 13th. Somehow charging a large sum of money to one's Visa card has a way of making the whole thing seem that much more real.


January 8-9
Santa Barbara to Frankfurt, Germany to Cairo, Egypt

January 9-25
Cairo, Egypt
Giza pyramids, Sphinx, Saqarra pyramids, museums, antiquities, bazaars, Grace

January 26-February 11
Luxor, Egypt (Flats in Luxor)
Luxor and Karnak temples, Thebes, Valley of the Kings, Tomb of Tut, Hatshepsut's Temple,...

February 12-20
Crete and Santorini

February 21-March 13
Athens and surroundings

March 14-22
Thesaloniki, northern Greece,...

March 23-30
Greece with the Greigs

March 31-April 6
Rome with the Griegs

April 7-May 31
Italy, Naples, Rome, Florence, Milan,...

June 1-21
France, Lascaux and A Rocha field study center near Arles

June 22-July 13
London, A Rocha field study centre and surroundings

Project Description

My name is Marty Robertson, and I teach sixth grade at Peabody Charter School here in Santa Barbara. The Governing Council of Peabody Charter School and the Superintendents of Santa Barbara Elementary School District have graciously granted me a sabbatical from my teaching position from January 2007 to July 2007 in order to conduct fieldwork while living in the regions of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. The general goal is to create several multimedia collections and curriculums that focus on the artifacts, ruins, and geology of these ancient cultures. Through a careful mixture of large-scale and detailed pictures, videos, sounds, stories, and vocabulary I hope to give students a deeper appreciation and understanding for the ancient world and how it was shaped by geology. Slide shows and movies will be created for classroom presentations and teacher trainings for both here at Peabody and throughout Santa Barbara County. Students will also use the digital media I bring back to produce their own presentations using PowerPoint, iMovie, and PhotoShop. Sixth Grade California State Standards for social studies focus on the ancient cultures of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East while science standards focus on earth science geomorphology with specifics on volcanoes and earthquakes. My proposal integrates both of these content areas and is consistent with National Educational Technology Standards for grade six.

The vast majority of the district’s students have no context in which to place the stories, concepts, or vocabulary of geology and ancient civilizations. Many have never traveled outside of Santa Barbara County. Textbooks, no matter how well integrated, simply cannot capture the magnitude of geologic activity or the immensity of ancient civilizations. This is a unique opportunity to show students the interconnectedness of geology with the history we study. For example, the volcanic eruption of Mt. Thera on the island of Santorini around 1400 BC and the ensuing tsunami waves account for many major historical changes in the Mediterranean region. Making these connections can ignite a student’s overall interest in learning and provide them with a much-needed opportunity for academic success. Beyond the classroom, students are encouraged to bring their families to our computer lab and share their work with their families on our weekly open community nights; their productions will also be burned to CD and sent home for students to share with their families.

This project directly impacts the 115 sixth graders at Peabody Charter School and through in-services will serve the approximately 700 sixth graders in the Santa Barbara School District. About 69% of students in the district are Hispanic and 24% are Caucasian; 41% are not native English speakers and 44% are economically disadvantaged.

The availability of technology in the classroom is fairly commonplace, but its use is often limited to word processing and edutainment. Often what limits teachers is a curriculum context in which to use these tools more effectively. The use of industry-standard technology tools such as PowerPoint, iMovie, and PhotoShop provides students with vocational training and the opportunity to create and proudly present what they are learning in a professional manner. This is especially important for our economically disadvantaged and English Learner students who have less access and support at home to successfully demonstrate what they are learning. The materials I create will build upon both teacher and student prior technology experience, broadening both their technology skills as well as their knowledge of ancient civilizations and geology. I will also be offering several in-service trainings for teachers. This past year I have conducted several trainings for sixth grade teachers concerning a geology unit I co-wrote.

Project evaluation will begin with a review and public presentation of the materials I create upon my return from the sabbatical. My principal, our governing council, school district officials, project partners, as well as Peabody community members will be invited. The second phase of evaluation will be a presentation of the materials and curriculum to fellow teachers in Santa Barbara County. The final and most important layer of evaluation will be student presentations. Students will take the media materials I bring back and create their own presentations of these ancient civilizations. Improved student learning is the ultimate goal.

The Santa Barbara educational community has shown tremendous support and excitement for this project. I have several letters of support from parents, teachers, my principal, Santa Barbara School District superintendents, and the Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Education. I have just begun my search for grants but am pleased to have already received some grant support from the Wharton Foundation. Contact Jean Pettitt of the Wharton Foundation with any questions (jpettitt@dpettitt.cnc.net).

And yet, while there is great support, there is also great expense. I will continue to receive general employee benefits, but the cost of a substitute teacher replacement for my sabbatical leave will be taken from my salary. This amounts to about a $13,000 pay cut. In addition to this there will be fieldwork expenses while completing research as well as equipment needs in order to create the multimedia productions. I have attached my anticipated budget and am seeking several Santa Barbara community partners to join me in making this project a success.

I am inviting several individuals, businesses, and foundations to join me in this endeavor through financial and gifts-in-kind donations. The attached Anticipated Budget Expenses includes a list of specifics as to equipment. The main thing I am trying to do is travel light, unobtrusively, and still create high quality work. Peabody Charter School has formed a foundation with a non-profit 501(c)3 tax status. The foundation is handling all financial and gift-in-kind support for me in this venture. All contributions are tax deductible and should be made out to the Peabody Charter School Foundation.
I would be happy to acknowledge your support in any way you see fit if you should choose to participate. Please contact my principal or me with any questions or feedback. Thank you for considering your part in making this project a success.


Marty Robertson, Sixth Grade Teacher
Peabody Charter School
3018 Calle Noguera
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
(805) 563-1172 work

Wish List/Budget

Anticipated Needs

Equipment – These items are being sought through gifts-in-kind.
  • Still Needed
  • Software Final Cut Express - Thanks to my class, I now own this. You all are the greatest!
  • PhotoShop CS2 - I have an older version but this would be a nice upgrade.

  • Travel Clothing (Still need some items)
  • MacBook laptop with AirPort Extreme and a SuperDrive (On loan from school!)
  • Software – iLife, iWork, Office 2004, QuickTime Pro, and iDVD (Purchased!)
  • Canon PowerShot S80 with two 1-GB memory cards or equivalent (Purchased!)
  • Canon Digital Video Camera Optura 600 or equivalent (Will use still camera's video capabilities instead)
  • Mp3 recording device for audio recording of guides and field notes (EDIROL R-1 Portable Recorder w/ 2x1GB) or equivalent (iPod with microphone - Thank you Santa!)
  • Palm LifeDrive w/ GPS for note taking in the field (Palm TX no GPS)
  • Electrical Converters (Purchased from Magellan Travel Supply)
  • Luggage and protective cases for equipment
  • Cell Phone with international coverage (Telestial)
  • Travel Backpacks (Purchased from Magellan Travel Supply)

Letters of Recommendation

Thank you for the great letters of support.

Bill Cirone, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools
Brain Sarvis, Santa Barbara Superintendent of Schools
Robin Sawaske, Santa Barbara Assistant Superintendent of Schools
Pat Morales, Principal of Peabody Charter School
Linnie Aikens, Teacher, Peabody Charter School
Rich Dixon, Teacher, Peabody Charter School
Colleen Russell, Teacher, Peabody Charter School
Christy Earls, Teacher, Peabody Charter School
Marcus Bird & Nancy Blum, Parents of Current Student
Sheila and Thomas Cullen, Parents of Current Student
Jane & Ken Sterling, Parents of Current Student