Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Technology Tuesdays With Nicole: Water Quality Outside and On The Web

by Nicole Ouellette

This Technology Tuesday is all about drinking water. It’s a great time of year to go outside with students. Sometimes, science labs at schools even have water testing kits for pH, dissolved oxygen, algae, or other water quality indicators. (You can also buy testing strips, which end up being fairly economical and easier for littler kids to read.) Record results for one body of water or several bodies of water. Make observations about what lives by and in the water in addition to taking measurements of water quality indicators. I could go into a little more detail about data collection here but the important thing is to collect as much data as you can so it can be analyzed. And now the technology part.

After you’ve collected water data, you can determine water quality based on the results you found. National standards exist for drinking water contaminants and can be found here. How does the pH of your water compare to the pH the US considers safe, for example? Oftentimes, the same contaminant information is available for individual towns as well. To take the analysis one step further, you can also have students look at aquatic macroinvertebrates as a determinant for water quality in addition to the chemical pollution. Here are some handy photographs to help students identify the insects and which species are more pollution tolerant can be seen here.

So take your class outside before everything freezes and you’re stuck inside for the winter!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Ubuntu Developers Summit Fall 2007

by David Trask

Well, here I am at another Ubuntu Developers Summit (UDS) where folks from all over the world come and work together to prepare and develop specs/features for the next release of Ubuntu (Hardy Heron or Ubuntu 8.04). You may recall from previous posts on my own blog "Ramblings of a Digital Educator" that I have been lucky to have been able to attend past UDS's in exotic locales such as Montreal, Google headquarters in California, and Seville Spain. Where am I now? The wonderful exotic locale of BOSTON. Ok, for me it's hardly exotic. In fact, I get down here several times a year for business, pleasure, and most of all...Red Sox games! Don't get me wrong, I'm honored to be here and excited about the work to be done. I'm here representing all of you as an educator, making sure that features we need such as user management, classroom applications, easy configuration...etc. are discussed and included. I'm not a programmer, but I understand "programmer-speak" or "geek-speak" so I'm able to bridge the gap and help out in that manner. I'm happy to report that Ubuntu/Edubuntu has matured to the point where most of the features with regard to the operating system, are complete...now it's time to focus on creating and implementing GUI tools to make the lives of system administrators and teachers much easier. Tools to manage classrooms, manage users, manage servers, and much more are in the pipeline and slated for discussion and development. It's an exciting time. Linux in education is poised for major adoption. Access to technology will become much more commonplace worldwide...for very little investment. Imagine...kids...showing the world what they can do...regardless of where they are and what their circumstances may be. Very cool.

Getting Started with Monday Too! at Telstar

"If my life was a song, it would be ____________because ______________."

Why are we here? What do we know? What would we like to get out of this?

Getting Started Agenda
Western Maine eMINTS

What Do We Care About? What Is Important?

"Real change begins with the simple act of people talking about what they care about." -M.J. Wheatley (2002) Turning to One Another, Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future, (p. 22)

What do you care about?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Technology . . . Friend or Foe?

The Law of Accelerating Returns ~ Ray Kurzweil

"An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense "intuitive linear" view. So we won't experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century -- it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today's rate). The 'returns,' such as chip speed and cost-effectiveness, also increase exponentially. There's even exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth. Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to The Singularity -- technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light."

We seem to worship technology. The equation seems to be: More Technology = Improved Lives. Yes, we love our gadgets and our systems and our data. We believe that science and technology will provide the answers to our problems.

Will it?

Technological Determinism
Informing Ourselves to Death
Chandler: Technological or Media Determinism
Technological Determinism of Marshall McLuhan

What is worth memorizing?

Most of my own schooling over the years has consisted primarily of memorizing material and then showing, at least in the short term, that I could pull it up at will. Let me confess that my abilities in this area have always been rather marginal, but I was good enough at it (read stubborn) to acquire the necessary documents to allow me to be eligible for my present position.

My awareness of this difficulty with memorization started in a high school English class when I realized that my classmates were able to memorize poetry verses much faster than I was. I noticed how many were able to learn lines for a play or lyrics to a song with much more ease. What they learned by repeating a few times might take me hundreds of times along with use of a multi-sensory approach. And yes, I've tried many of the mnemonic devices.

So you see, it is quite natural that this old digital immigrant has become very comfortable with the personal computer. I don't need to keep everything in my head now that I have almost instant access to it through the Internet.

This raises the question: What IS worth memorizing?

In other words, what are those things that, by keeping in my own head, will empower me, or at the very least, allow me to function in an efficient and productive manner?

For example, knowing my home phone number and social security number seem to be handy things to have committed to memory. I still think that having memorized basic math facts has saved me a lot of agony over the years. I'm not so sure that having to memorize the periodic table in 8th grade was particularly helpful, as I'm not a chemist, rarely use it, and can find several interactive representations on the web, if needed.

So . . . what do you think? What is worth memorizing for those of us who have difficulty with it?

Another question: Should we teach students memorization skills?

Memorization Skills Resources

Memory Resources

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Cut & Paste Kids

Hmmmm . . . should this be Copy & Paste Kids?

In this time of instant information, how can we take a closer look at student engagement, inquiry learning, essential questions, and good questioning in general?

Other CyberSmart Videos

I tend to be wary of canned programs of any sort, but I've spent some time this morning looking at the CyberSmart site and think I will now be making use of some of their resources.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Why I Love Maine

Jeff Swanson has done a series of short videos called Why I love Maine.

Might these work as an introduction to video creation with students?

Video Resources
iMovie Resources

School Culture & Climate @ Oxford Hills

Oxford Hills School District devoted their professional development day today to student behavior and school culture and climate. All approximately 600 employees, including bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria and maintenance workers, started the day out with an introduction to the PBIS model. Employees later went to smaller groups to hear about ways to identify and deal with harassment and sexual harassment. The day ended with individual building members meeting together to discuss local needs. They had earlier taken a survey using one of the popular free online survey tools.

PBIS Resources

Behavior Management Resources

Rights & Responsibilities Resources
Process Skills
Classroom Management Resources
Character Resources
Bullying Resources

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Creativity, Learning & Jobs

Daniel Pink, author of Free Agent Nation and A Whole New Mind - Moving from the information Age to the Conceptual Age, gives us this advice in a McNews interview:

MCNews: One last question: if you were going to give somebody just one piece of advice about how to be successful in this new age, what would it be?

Pink: The best career move is to find what you love to do, what you’re great at, and pursue that. I think you will be more valuable in the workforce. If you love accounting and you’re great at it, you’re going to be okay.

I worry about the folks who pursue careers because their parents, teachers, or spouses give them outdated advice and they’re dutifully marching into careers they don’t really care about because they think it’s the way to make money. Not only is that bad for their individual self-actualization but I think it’s a bad career move, too.

Steve Jobs gives this advice at his 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech:

Sir Ken Robinson at TED tells us this:

Do these views have anything in common?

Little Boxes

I never get headaches . . . but I think this morning might be my first. Anyone remember that song from the sixties by Malvina Reynolds called "Little Boxes?"
"Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes made of tickytacky
Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes all the same
There's a green one and a pink one and a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses all went to the university
Where they were put in boxes and they came out all the same,
And there's doctors and there's lawyers, and business executives
And they're all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.

And they all play on the golf course and drink their martinis dry,
And they all have pretty children and the children go to school
And the children go to summer camp and then to the university
Where they are put in boxes and they come out all the same.

And the boys go into business and marry and raise a family
In boxes made of ticky tacky and they all look just the same."

Now originally I'm sure it was simply a lampoon of middle class suburbia and conformist nature of our society. But today, for me, it comes to mind when I think about the NCLB-induced professional time that is top-down with a avalanche of data and an incomprehensible amount of "boxes" and "hoops-to-jump-through."

I would like to argue that top-down system approaches are part of the problem and ultimately will fall under their own weight. I hear talk of professional learning communities and capacity-building, but at times become very discouraged by the weighty bureaucracy, mandates from above, and "blue-ribbon" panels of corporate executives and university officials pontificating abstractions unconnected to the realities of the common people.

We need fewer boxes . . . not more.

Is just doing more, faster, really the solution to the issues of our nation?

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Research Brief: Creating Better Writers in Maine

Maine's Middle School Laptop Program: Creating Better Writers - Research Brief ~David L. Silvernail & Aaron K. Gritter, October 2007

University of Southern Maine ~ Center for Education Policy, Applied Research, and Evaluation

Collaborating with the Collaboration at Dirigo Middle

I made a quick trip up to Dixfield today to finalize the plan and contract with the wonderful educators at T W Kelley Dirigo Middle School. DOE now will have their IID MOU as required by the feds, and I will be able to devote considerable time to work with Dirigo teachers who are becoming mentors through the Western Maine Educational Collaborative Literacy Project. I'll be working with Sarah Sirois, eMINTS teacher Tania Clark, and others in supplementing the work of Darlene Bassett . . . although Darlene doesn't know it yet! :) In other words, we will be investigating more ways of integrating technology into the literacy initiative ideas. Let's just call it an augmented professional learning community! :)

See Mountain Valley Literacy Project Information
Literacy Across the Curriculum
Professional Learning Communities

OHMS - Team Planning Time & NoteShare

View Larger Map

I took an hour today to work with a team of teachers at Oxford Hills Middle School on the basics of NoteShare. Every child on their team already has had the experience. Whenever it is presented to teachers, it always brings excitement, and ideas on utilization start to be cultivated. Having the ACTEM NoteShare Server up and running today was very handy in showing what is available out there. Tomorrow, during a professional day, I'll be using the admin password to enable sharing on the teachers' iBooks.

Noteshare Resources

The Smell of Bacon at Climate & Culture Morning Meeting

You gotta love it. I connect with Mountain Valley Middle School as often as I can, being an additional resource for their literacy initiative and building-wide climate and culture focus. It is such a joy to observe the light-hearted social interaction of this staff combined with the serious work of school improvement. Today, as I arrive, a complete breakfast including the smell of bacon drew me to the home economics room where the staff gathers before the professional development meeting. Friendly place . . .nice touch.

This morning's topic was bullying. There's an enthusiastic and well-organized committee that leads the monthly late-arrival meeting devoted to school climate and culture.

Here's leadership that respects the group process, but perhaps more importantly, knows how to do it. The congeniality that comes from working through issues with patience in a collaborative manner shines through, mixing laughter and good humor with the more serious realities of working in a school. Want a model for PLC's? Look no further - they understand the concept at MVMS.

Today's task was to work in groups to try to come to a consensus on the consequences of different types of inappropriate language in the building. The discussion was to the point, relating to the realities. To me, the process was the important thing.

How is discipline and behavior management in buildings used to create a school that is friendly, caring, and encourages the best in each student as well as civility?

Behavior Management Resources

Rights & Responsibilities Resources
Process Skills
Classroom Management Resources
Character Resources
Bullying Resources

Professional Learning Communities

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Reality Check - Manufacturing Crisis in Education

A few articles that question some of the assumptions being made about education:

Public Education and Its Discontents by Gerald W. Bracey

Who to Trust? by Deborah Meier

Democracy Is All About Making Tough Choices by Deborah Meier

Great Ideas by Deborah Meier

The Pedagogy of Poverty Versus Good Teaching by Martin Haberman

It's the Curriculum, Stupid: There's Something Wrong with It by Dave F. Brown

No Child Left Behind: A Foolish Race Into the Past by David Marshak

Accountability for Promoting Democracy by Kenneth A. Sirotnik

Bridging the Culture Gap by Peter Sacks

In Technocracy We Trust by Sam Smith

Just Like Pastami by Lee Shulman

Educating a Democracy by Deborah Meier

Don't Weigh the Elephant - Feed the Elephant by Milton Chen

Teaching the Elephant
by David Brooks

Have any online articles on education that you would like to add?

ACTEM NoteShare Server

Crystal Priest of SAD #4 has set up the ACTEM NoteShare Server which gives us access to many excellent notebooks created by people in Maine. Many thanks to the excellent support and encouragement from Scott Love, president and developer of the program at Aquaminds.

The NoteShare application, which is on all MLTI laptops, is being discovered at an increasing rate by many teachers and students across the state. It is appreciated for its ability to pull together a variety of functions and resources in one place, organize them, and to then allow collaboration through several ways of sharing.

There is already quite a collection of quality notebooks. Barbara Greenstone and Phil Brookhouse have been working overtime in producing a large number of these books on a variety of topics. You really must check 'em out. :)

If I have this correct (Do correct me if I'm wrong, Scott), there are two ways of accessing the Maine server:

1. Through the NoteShare Application - Fire up Noteshare, go to SHARING:OPEN SHARED NOTEBOOK, PRESS THE + BUTTON, and add this address: noteshare.actem.org . Choose the notebook you are interested in and downloaded it to your computer desktop by going to FILE:SAVE TO, and if you wish, edit it to meet your needs. Check with your building tech person or teacher-leader for the password to these gems.

2. Through a web browser. This is read-only.

Additional Information

ACTEM on NoteShare

Do you have a NoteShare notebook to share with the rest of Maine's educators?

Send Crystal Priest a note and she'll set you up. :)

Ready or Not here they come ... Maine Learning Results !

by Ed Latham

That's right, you heard about them before. You have plugged endless hours aligning curriculum. You saw them get pulled back for revision. You got to see some revisions and may have even had some input. Finally, they are back. Let the curriculum alignment frenzy commence!

Nancy Hudak just shared with me the link to Informational Letter #32 which officially posts that the learning results are ready for consumption. The letter provides a time line and encourages schools to start in on alignment. Included in the letter is a link to the revised learning results. I looked over some of the changes about a year ago so I guess it is time to look them over again with a bit more effort to determine what the changes are. Some people lived and breathed the first round of learning results and those people may benefit from a concise summary of "What has changed" very much like software producers release when the next version of their product comes out. If anyone has such an abbreviated update sheet, I am sure everyone reading this would love to see that. In the meantime, I need to figure out when I might be able to have some time to look over the new learning results. Oh, I said the T word again. Time is such an important commodity in the educational process as Jim previously posted in his post yesterday about constructivism needing time for the processing. Of course our leaders in the state house know about this important commodity and how necessary it is in order for real change to happen. I am anxious to see their version of extra time teachers will now have to really construct meaning for the learning result in their classroom. While waiting for the state's view on where that time is coming from, I guess I will go buy my winning Power Ball ticket so that I can experience two statistical miracles at once.

Happy aligning everyone!

Monday, October 22, 2007

I talk too much . . .

I talk too much. No question about it.

Part of it is fearing that others will think I'm not earning my pay unless I'm presenting. Now . . . I really know better . . . but . . .

Tonight I asked my eMINTS group to pick a topic that they teach and then gather resources for it, giving them some suggested links to use. Pure Web 1.0. We spent about 45 minutes on this until our evening meal of stuff shells was ready. (We have great cooks in this group).

After eating, everyone shared something about what they had found. I asked if this was worthwhile time and was surprised at the intensity of the response in favor of this "personal" time. Teachers need time to connect to their own work. We all do. Constructivism applies to everyone. We need time for connections!

Why is it that I have to keep re-learning this lesson?

I'll be quiet now ... .... .... ... . :)

Constructivism Resources

Piaget Resources
Dewey Resources

Gathering & Sharing Workshop at Telstar

Gathering & Sharing Agenda

Add a comment.

Skimming & Scanning

Does skimming and scanning come naturally . . . or does it need to be taught?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Expeditionary Schools in Maine

I've done some reading on expeditionary schools but have to admit my ignorance of the details of their operation. My understanding is that the King Middle School in Portland, the Casco Bay School in Portland, and the Bath Middle School are official sites. Any others?

Anyone in the know care to share how they work?

Expeditionary Learning Resources

Inquiry Learning & Webquests

Ever tried a webquest? If you have, you know that an authentic one requires an essential question and the following:


"A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented activity in which most or all of the information used by learners is drawn from the Web. WebQuests are designed to use learners' time well, to focus on using information rather than on looking for it, and to support learners' thinking at the levels of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation." ~ Bernie Dodge, the originator of the WebQuest

Webquest Resources
Inquiry Learning Resources
Bloom's Taxonomy Resources

Do you have a webquest to share or recommend?

Here is Sarah Sutter's Contribution:

Propaganda WebQuest at Wiscasset High School.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Diploma Requiring College Application

"Education Commissioner Susan Gendron said Friday that she wants every high school senior to apply to college before being eligible for a diploma." ~ Sun-Journal
Apparently it is being recommended to the legislature that in order to graduate from high school, the student must apply to a college.

See full Sun-Journal article.
Bangor Daily News article
Portland Press Herald: College Aspirations the Key to Maine's Future Prosperity - George Mitchell & Speaker Glenn Cummings
Maine Government News: College Applications to Become High School Graduation Requirement

Should governments have this power? What do you think?

Some background information: The Maine Compact - College for ME

Who's Who - Board of Directors List, Staff - Executive Director: Henry Bourgeois, Sponsors/Funders
University of Maine System Online Application for Admission
Informational Letter # 31 saying that the requirement would be to fill out the application, not necessarily actually apply to a college.

Another Viewpoint:

The Big Con in Education: Why Must "All" High School Graduates Be Prepared for College?

Center for the Study of Jobs & Education in Wisconsin and United States - Dennis W. Redovich
Interview with Dennis W. Redovich
Is University Necessary for All?
Google Answers: Is College Necessary?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Workshop: Teaching the Art of Persuasion

Patsy Dunton from the Maine Department of Education is sharing the changes in the standards of the Maine Learning Results which has implications in the teaching of persuasion.

Guidelines for evaluating persuasive text:

1. Does the text argue for a particular position or point of view?
2. Does it attempt to convince the reader to think, act, or feel a certain way?
3. Does it begin with an opening statement which introduces the author's position?
4. Does it develop the position with relevant supporting evidence?
5. Does it concede, acknowledge, or refute an opposing view?

Some other connected resources

Workshop: Library of Congress Primary Source Resources

This morning at the MAMLE Conference, Amy Deshane of the Winthrop Middle School presented the huge collection of resources available at the Library of Congress. Good stuff! :)

Amy Deshane's LOC Resources Wiki

Library of Congress

Amy's email

Thursday, October 18, 2007

More on ACTEM 2007

by Deborah White

You'd think that with all those techie types gathered in one place, a single online site would be available to access all the presentations and resources and thoughts generated at this yearly conference.

Two of the speakers, keynoter Will Richardson and session presenter Vicki Davis both spoke of the importance of the book Wikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams. This book speaks of the new model of mass collaboration and how it is impacting our daily lives.

Combining these two thoughts, I am asking readers to visit my summary
of the links I found to ACTEM sessions. If you have other links, please email me and/or post them here so I can add them to the list.

Technorati Tags:

Favorite PD ideas? What works for you?

by Sarah Sutter

I'm wondering about the favorite professional development ideas for getting teachers more connected to 2.0 tools. With the roll out of the hs MLTI laptops the staff in my building is ready and excited about new tools and techniques and strategies. I want to help them maintain the enthusiasm -- and some PD in the past has shut down more than it has opened up.

What are your favorite PD formats?
What do you think are good places to start? (Noteshare? Wikis? Blogs? there is so much to choose from!)

I'm thinking I'll try the "join the fun" approach to start with - maybe some will get hooked and the whole thing will snowball. Will Richardson's statement about modeling the practice / modeling your own learning is the angle I think I want to go with, rather than immediately attacking classroom uses. I'd love to have your thoughts on where to start.

So to which blogs do you subscribe?

by Ron Smith

I am hoping to start some conversion here - My question is to which blogs do you subscribe? I have a few good ones in my aggregator: Will Richardson's Weblogg-ed, David Warlick's 2 Cents Worth, Edutopia's Spiral Notebook and of course this one, but am also really interested in expanding my horizons here.

What are your favorite blogs (or other RSS feeds) and why?

Workshop: Blogging in the Middle School Curriculum

This afternoon at the MAMLE conference I'm attending a workshop on blogging by Carl and Joyce Bucciantini from the Auburn Middle School. They have developed two great NoteShare notebooks on blogging which were offered to everyone via flashdrive. Good stuff!

AMS Blog Page

Workshop: From Argument to Persuasion

I'm attending a fascinating workshop at MAMLE by Freeport Middle School teacher, Elizabeth Sky-McIlvain, called "From Argument to Persuasion."

Want to know more about teaching persuasion? Elizabeth is the person to contact. :)

MAMLE 2007 Conference Notes to Share - Thursday

Program and Brochures

Click on "comments" below and share your observations & thoughts on activities of the day.

Scattered Notes of Keynote by Angus King:

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning a lion wakes up.
It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle.
When the sun comes up, you better start running.

- African Proverb

Recommended that everyone reads The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman

Friedman Quotes

History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes. ~ Mark Twain

Innovation & Steve Jobs

Point: Americans have to improve skills to compete in a flat world.


It is about finding out rather than knowing.

Law school . . . ask the right question and then find the law that applies to that question. Point . . teach to find the law to fit the issue.

Making mistake on the kind of tests we use.

Need to have context and content. Need balance. Process.

Skills of learning new skills. Learning learning

Quotes of Papert

Need to be concerned about infrastructure and deficits.

"Here's the Visa bill. . . take care of it for me, okay?"

Attitude is important.

Showing up is important.

"Survival of the Fittest" Darwin . . . defined as most adaptable to change . . .

Gretsky "It's easy. I skate to where the puck is going to be. Everyone else skates to where it is."

Definition of a Canadian: An unarmed North American with health insurance.

Share . . share what you know.

Will Richardson's Keynote Presentation at ACTEM 2007

by Kern Kelley

Will Richardson's keynote presentation at the 2007 ACTEM state conference.

To view the video in full screen [Link]. (Please note the quality level is set for web streaming, for a higher quality video or DVD please contact kkelley@msad48.org) Download the video for an iPod. For more information on how to put video on an iPod click here.

Bob Sprankle also podcast an audio only version of the keynote here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Technology Tuesdays With Nicole

by Nicole Ouellette

Yes, it is Wednesday but I meant for this to be posted yesterday. :^)

Every Tuesday, it is my goal to post something technological and hopefully also helpful to educators and others who read this blog.

I'd like to use this Technology Tuesday to discuss a great (and did I mention free?) audio editing program called Audacity. You can download it here. And with a microphone and a little patience, you can layer "tracks" into truly interesting recordings and save them as many different audio file extensions including .mp3 and .wav files. I actually used this program to create cheering mix for our regional competition (tracks 1 and two had music (alternating) and track 3 had all the sound effects), though I'm sure the program can be used for much more intellectual purposes, like having language students record themselves speaking or having students create their own podcasts or radio shows, but I thought I'd pass the knowledge along. See you next Tuesday.

Will Richardson's Keynote at ACTEM 2007

Listen to Will Richardson's keynote as a Bob Sprankle podcast:

Bit by Bit Podcast #52 Will Richardson

Digging Clams

Clam Digging
Clams and Clamming
Soft Shell Clams in Maine
"Happy as a Clam"
Clam Digging Maine @ Flickr
Dig It: Taking clams from mud is back-breaking work

Web 2.0 Collaboration Tools @ Maine Adult Ed Pre-Conference

This morning at the Adult Ed Pre-Conference we'll be investigating many of the web 2.0 possibilities available to encourage communication and collaboration.

Olga's Wiki
Jim's Link Page

Maine Adult Education 2007 Conference

On Universal Design, Acronyms & Buzzwords

I just finished reading Amanda Leavitt's October 13 post on Universal Design titled "My Universal Design." I enjoyed Amanda's playfulness with the many acronyms and buzzwords we throw around in Education.

Susan Ohanian has a list for NCLB words: Most likely Words to Appear in Congressional Reauthorization of NCLB.

“If you can't convince them, confuse them.” ~ Harry Truman

Question: Why do we use terms that only serve to obfuscate? Isn't it time we use language to communicate rather than to confuse?

Universal Design Resources

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Open House & Community Building

I love Deborah White's weekly articles on education in the Bangor Daily News. This week's article is on the school open house. Deborah is continually asking questions that matter, such as "How do we build community?" and "How do we build a sense of belonging?" I guess I share her sense that this is what makes all the difference in our schools and in our culture in general.

Icebreaker Resources
Trust Building Resources
Team Building Resources
Community Building Resources
Learning Styles Resources
Diversity Resources
Questioning Resources
Essential Questions Resources
Cooperative Learning Resources
Listening Skills Resources
Active Listening Resources

Question: How can we build community and a sense of belonging?

Photo from Stephan DW's photostream

Monday, October 15, 2007

We Have Met the Enemy . . . Cloaking Ourselves in Technological Glory

"Here is what Henry David Thoreau told us: 'All our inventions are but improved means to an unimproved end.' Here is what Goethe told us: 'One should, each day, try to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it is possible, speak a few reasonable words.' And here is what Socrates told us: 'The unexamined life is not worth living.' And here is what the prophet Micah told us: 'What does the Lord require of thee but to do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God?' And I can tell you -- if I had the time (although you all know it well enough) -- what Confucius, Isaiah, Jesus, Mohammed, the Buddha, Spinoza and Shakespeare told us. It is all the same: There is no escaping from ourselves. The human dilemma is as it has always been, and we solve nothing fundamental by cloaking ourselves in technological glory.

Even the humblest cartoon character knows this, and I shall close by quoting the wise old possum named Pogo, created by the cartoonist, Walt Kelley. I commend his words to all the technological utopians and messiahs present. 'We have met the enemy,' Pogo said,'and he is us.'" ~ Neil Postman

Neil postman
gave a speech in 1990 called "Informing Ourselves to Death" which I keep returning to because I find it so current and so important. If you haven't had a chance, read it and let us know what you think.


Do you believe science and technology will solve the important issues of our world?

Do you think collaborating through web 2.0 tools will make us more caring individuals?

"In a modern society people can live without hope only when kept dazed and out of breath by incessant hustling." ~ Eric Hoffer

K12Online - let the fun begin

by Sharon Betts

(Cross posted from SharonsShare) These presentations have been published today at K12OnlineConference 2007!

Direct links to the presentation are provided.

  1. CLASSROOM 2.0 KEYNOTE: “Classroom 2.0 or You Live Where?”

  2. NEW TOOLS KEYNOTE: “More Than Cool Tools”

  3. Classroom 2.0: “Travel Through Space and Time”

  4. New Tools: “Cell Phones as Classroom Learning Tools”
This is a must attend conference - at your own time and place. Even have CEU's and college credits offered. The presenters names are a list of visionary educators.

Technorati Tags:

Building on the Web - Telstar Group

Building on the Web @ the Crescent Park School from 3:30 - 7:00
Monday, October 15, 2007

Sunday, October 14, 2007

ACTEM and MainEducation Technology Conference

by George Crawford

This was my 14th consecutive year of going to the MainEducational technology Conference at the Augusta Civic Center. It has become a yearly trip that I make every fall and have looked forward to it every year.

The first thing you realize that when you get there is that you can feel technology in the air, at least for me anyway. Living in rural Washington County, you sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the choices in the vendor areas. From companies such as Apple, Lenevo, and others for computers to all of the software vendors, there are many varieties of things to look at, try out, and see. The door prizes are nice too.

The changes since 1993 are many. I can remember going to ACTEM and buying my first new Mac for home. A Macintosh LC III with a grand total of 4 MBs of RAM, an 80 MB hard drive, and a 14” color monitor. The StyleWriter II printer seemed a step up from my old dot matrix with my Laser 128 (a clone of the Apple II). The new iMacs and Macbook Pros are like warp drive as compared to the old days.

The sessions have changed yet are still similar. Some have to do with the latest and greatest in Technology. Some are software updates from Apple, Adobe, and also Microsoft. Some are the new technologies at a given time. I remember in 1997 or 1998 when Apple let people check out Newton Emates for a day to try out and take notes on.

This was the first year that I came to the Thursday sessions. I went to Technology and the Law which was great from Drummond and Woodsum. Many question were raised such as the role of schools in blogs and wikis that are on school servers that students participate in.

Friday’s sessions were also good. I learned about NWEA and schools that use it. I also attended sessions on BESS filtering through MSLN, the Future of Technology and the Horizon Report, and I learned how much more complicated Final Cut Pro is more than iMovie.

Also seeing people from ACTEM from around the state that you only see at conferences is great. You know many of them by name from the ACTEM list serve but don’t recognize them by face.

It was a great conference and would recommend that people go it. Now this year I would like to finally attend an ACTEM meeting. We will see! Thanks to all at ACTEM for organizing another great conference and for a great two days!!!

Things to Think About:

How has technology changed my life?

How had technology changed over my lifetime for the good and bad?

What is ACTEM and the MainEducational Technology Conference?

What role will technology play in the future of my students and my children?

What is are some of the legal aspects of the use of technology in schools and the law?

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Ways to Tell a Story

Alan Levine's 50 Web 2.0 Ways To Tell a Story
Jason Ohler's Digital and Traditional Storytelling
Digital Storytelling Resources
Idea Generators
Writing Prompts
Storyboarding Resources
Video Resources

21st Century Skills in Maine

This past summer Maine joined the National Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

While many people are celebrating this initiative, Gary Stager has another take on it. He argues that there is nothing new to these skills, that they've always been important, and aren't anything that couldn't be done without computers. He also points out that this is being sponsored and pushed by large corporations who also support NCLB. Read Stager's article, "Apparently This Group of Tech Execs Has as Crystal Ball," here.

What do you think? Does Stager have a point or is this perhaps just an example of keynote speaker opportunism? How legitimate is the Partnership? Is it yet another of a long history of glossy attempts by large corporations to further their interests in the marketplace while failing to consider our disintegrating culture and lack of an adequate social safety net for our citizens?

Twenty-first Century Skills Resources


I've been watching a fascinating show on Ovation TV with George Martin called Rhythm of Life.

The idea is that there is rhythm everywhere there is life. Rhythm in everything.

Confession: I've always thought that the arts should be considered the true "basics" of school curriculum instead of reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic.

What do you think - is a sense of rhythm important in children's lives? Is a sense of rhythm important in adult lives?

One obvious change that has taken place in my lifetime is that schedules are not cast in stone to the degree that they were in Pleasantville. The family eating together at a set time every evening is much less common now than a couple of generations ago. We now have cable, VCR's and DVD's and TIVO's that can shift programming times that wasn't possible earlier. The number of choices has expanded at an exponential rate so that the type of common daily experiences that tie together our culture has changed radically . . . and perhaps decreased. How does this effect community and human character?

A couple other questions: Is there a rhythm in digital technology and our online experiences? If there is a rhythm, how is it different?

Rhythm Resources

Technology Education Blog . . .

Check out Scott Hall's comments on the ACTEM 2007 conference at his blog called Technology Education.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Sharon's Share

Check out Sharon's Share Blog (Sharon Betts) for reviews and information on this year's ACTEM Conference.

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The Cool Cat Teacher

Check out the Cool Cat Teacher Blog. Vicki A. Davis has information from her sessions at the ACTEM Conference.

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Web 2.0 with Becky & Olga - Blogs & Wikis

I am still on the floor in a room that is overflowing with delightful educators, checking out a presentation of web 2.0 tools by Becky Ranks and Olga LaPlante. We are watching a TeacherTube vid by a lady called Allanah.

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Becky is presenting some down-to-earth examples of blogs created by teachers and students.

Olga speaks of the advantages of RSS and blogs.

More: Blogging in Education

Next . . . review the advantages of wikis.

More: Wiki Resources


Viewed a Bob Spankle talk on Podcasting

More: Podcasting and Education

Examples of VoiceThread



More: Online Classroom Environments

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More of a comment

by Olga LaPlante

When Will Richardson was talking about teaching students to how to use iPhones, and networking, and that expecting each student by a certain date not to have one of those toys in their pocket at all times, and riding in a wireless cloud to search for information was simply put unreasonable - well, am I misreading this, but what about overdependence on these toys - remember, like a tamagotchi that dies when left unattended for a few hours? I am overreacting? Am I missing some other essential skills that are being developed even though on the surface it looks like we are just using those toys to rely on someone to have answers ready for us?

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A Teacher's Thoughts - Reflections on Wikis Across the Curriculum

Check out Rich Biche's blog for reflections on ACTEM sessions.

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Arrogance vs Supreme Confidence?

by Ed Latham

If you have ever been taught something by a very experienced person with many insights, you may have been left with some extreme feelings. As soon as we approach an "authority" we naturally start measuring up the content to find its personal worth. There is a more subtle assessment that is made as well. As soon as we establish that the content being offered is worthwhile, there seems to be a natural inclination for people to establish whether the presenter is being arrogant or is very confident in the material. Many people do not see things black or white, and frequently we leave training opportunities with a feeling that people are somewhere in between. I have attended many presentations and in the debriefing conversations I have listened and participated in sharing sessions with peers in which the most heated feelings were centered around the presentation rather than the content. What actions or attitudes help us to delineate between arrogance and confidence? Here are some definitions to soak up first...



We are all presenters in our positions as educators. In our professional development experiences we have all run into presenters that almost exemplify either extreme. I think that by discussing these positive and negative traits, many of us can internalize and start analyzing how we come across to other people. What traits do confident presenters give off that arrogant ones do not and vice versa?

Today is the 20th annual ACTEM conference and people will be seeing many presenters. Grab all the content and experience you can get from this great experience, but I ask you to look at the traits the presenters have and try to relate those to your overall feelings during your reflections later this evening. Why did this presenter leave you feeling upbeat, angry, disappointed, energized or may you just felt lost?

No presenter starts out their morning saying, "Well they paid me a boat load of cash so I might as well go out there and tick some people off today .... hmmm how might I do that?" So with that in mind, please DO NOT post any specific names or "That guy that presented the snake dancing thing.." Instead keep your posts concentrating on the properties of the presentations that left you feeling that the presenter was arrogant or confident.

I am anxious to learn from everyone how we all view these two feelings that presenters often leave us with!

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ACTEM 2007 Conference Notes to Share - Friday

This is a space for comments on the ACTEM MaineEducation 2007 Technology Conference. Click on "comments" below and share your observations and thoughts.

A Web of Connections: Why the Read/Write Web Changes Everything

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Just a thought...

by Olga LaPlante

I am sitting here at the ACTEM Pre-conference workshop, listening to people presenting high school stuff - suggesting some techniques, but also providing a lot of research data.

One of the presenters said, “We know more about what our students CAN’T do, and very little about what they CAN do.”

This is very true - I think back to this past spring, and the art show by the PATHS students. They had their work for show and sale downstairs at the PATHS building. I went there in the hope to find some piece of art that I would both like and be able to afford. What I found was beautiful talented work by one of my former French language students, - I had no idea! Not only she did a good job, but she actually painted in the style I so much enjoy. We actually had much more in common than I could have ever imagined, and would not have known otherwise!

Message - it’s important to connect beyond classroom and textbook. It’s often a matter of time, though. Thinking outside the box can help use class time to discover students’ talents, interests and such.

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CAST - Universal Design for Learning at ACTEM Pre-Conference

I'm blogging from the CAST presentation. Fascinating! We are working through neural paths and strategies used that are dependent on a question asked about a visual. Aside: Check out MusicNotes Player software.

We are now looking at representations of 3-dimensional space in 2 dimensions. Hmmmmm. . .reminds me of SketchUp.

Point: Focus on strengths of students rather than their weaknesses.

Analyzing Visual . . . Multiple Ways

What is here?
Do you see this? Tracking.
What is happening here? Comes from within.

Multiple Means of Engagement, Marco Torres, FlickSchool

Remember the three Principles

Multiple Means of Expression to increase recognition
Multiple Means of Expression to expand strategic abilities
Multiple Means of Engagement to enhance involvement

Story written in 1902: Monkey's Paw. Vocabulary is an issue for students. How do we approach? Many methods of working on this are being presented.

Resources: “Be Careful What You Wish For” PowerPoint;
Supporting, Engaging and Enhancing Comprehension for Students in High School (SEEC)

Little Known Features of Microsoft Word
Read, Write, Think
Web 2.0 Tools: diigo and Voice Thread

Supporting Literacy: Transforming Text
Resources: FireFox w/ ClickSpeak
Supported Reading Software; Etext Resources on the Web Commercial Etext;
Audacity – Text to MP3
Audacity online tutorial:

CAST: Teaching every Student

CAST eText Resources (Word)

CAST Math Resources (Word)

Supporting High School Math: Representation, Expression & Engagement
Resources: Interactivate!

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Feel free to comment below by clicking the "comments" link. What are your thoughts?

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Design your own training retreat!

by Ed Latham

Every year there are many professional development activities that teachers can go to and learn things. After every one of those, I have had debriefing with peers about the goods/bads/uglys from that experience and that reflection time is great. How often do you actually get to act on that reflection though? Well, here is your chance. Some of the people that read this blog are very influential people that help set up trainings, presentations, and retreats all over the state of Maine. They would love to hear from us about what things we value at trainings. Many teachers have stated they want "something they can actually bring back to their classroom". That is a great ambition, but specific suggestions are much more helpful in getting teachers what they want. Some people may not be sure what to ask for. Please offer anything you want as there are absolutely no negative consequences to posting your wish list. Realize that every single one of the presentation directors out there want to provide the best learning resource for teachers to use. They need input from you so PLEASE post your ideas!

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ACTEM Conference 2007 Chatter - Pre-Conference

This is a space for comments on the ACTEM MaineEducation 2007 Technology Conference. Click on "comments" below and share your observations and thoughts.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Learning in Maine Show

Here's a link to uStream.tv: Show


PC Magazine


cara·van· (kar′ə van′) (noun) 1.a company of travelers, esp. of merchants or pilgrims traveling together for safety, as through a desert. 2. a number of vehicles traveling together. 3. a large covered vehicle for passengers, circus animals, gypsies, etc.; van. 4. Brit. a mobile home or trailer

The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word caravan, other than the Dodge Caravan, is the vision of the travelers on the silk road with perhaps a few camels thrown in for good measure. Dangers lurk everywhere.

But at Oxford Hills Middle School, a team of teachers has a tradition of using the caravan theme as a way of exploring countries around the world. Yesterday and today I have been presenting new tools that help to empower students and teachers in their explorations. This includes tools that help to find, evaluate, organize, process and present information.

It works like this: I spend a couple days in the classroom of one of the teachers on the team. As the kids cycle through his classroom from other classes on the team, I get the opportunity to not only show them some of these powerful tools, but the teacher gets to see the presentation 5 times. I'll also attend a planning period with all teachers on the team to repeat the work one more time. Doing this repeatedly creates a critical mass of people on the team who are fluent in the tools and thus greatly improves the chances of it being seriously used for curriculum projects. A simple model for encouraging integration.

The agenda for sessions included:

1. How to make a PDF and attach it to an email.
2. The wonders of MARVEL - making use of it for the Caravan Project
3. The Powers of Noteshare - how to use it for the Caravan Project
4. Setting up back-up server access for students.

Great fun! The kids are so quick to pick it up . . . and are enthusiastic to start making use of it in their projects.

Making a PDF on a Mac
MARVEL - Maine's Virtual Library
Noteshare Resources

Teaching in 1947 . . . "The Fun They Had"

Read "The Fun They Had" by Isaac Isimov, and then view this old teacher training film. Discuss.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Character Series: Humility

"Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children." ~ Kahlil Gibran

"Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box." ~ Italian proverb
How do we model humility?

Humility Resources

Character Series: Responsibility

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

“You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say” ~ Martin Luther
Are we teaching our children to be responsible?

Responsibility Resources

Rights and Responsibilities Resources

Monday, October 8, 2007

October = Professional Development Without Borders

by Michael Richards

This is a great month for teaching and technology
in terms of professional development. There are two big events coming up, the K12 Online Conference and ACTEM's MAINEd Conference. Each of these events offer educators and administrators a lot to think about when it comes to teaching with technology.

Today kicked off the
K12 Online Conference with David Warlick's keynote address "Inventing the New Boundaries" and tomorrow will be a follow up to the keynote with a fireside chat. Over the next few weeks the conference will have sessions for a wide range of educators as well as a wide range of ability levels. Last year's conference was very well received and this year's is already setting the bar even higher. The great part of this conference is the fact that it is free and the sessions can be viewed at anytime from anywhere you have an Internet connection. Check out the teasers for sessions to find something you may want to check out later. The complete schedule with blogging tags can be found here.

At the end of the week ACTEM is sponsoring their 20th annual MAINEd Conference. Everything kicks off Thursday afternoon with pre-conference sessions. Will Richardson and Vicki Davis are each running a session (New Web Technologies Transforming Education and Wikis in Curriculum respectively) as well as other sessions from some great people. The next day there are some great sessions following Will Richardson's keynote address that address the needs of educators and administrators from Maine. If you're not able to make the conference people will be blogging and podcasting sessions so you can always attend virtually. If you're attending and plan on sharing your experiences please use technorati tags ACTEM MAINEd07 in your posts to help people track conversations through hitchikr. I've developed session tags based off the conference sessions that can be accessed here.

The only excuse one might have for not getting involved would be time. Even that excuse is negated by the fact you can follow these sessions through RSS feeds. This allows the user to have a professional development on demand experience, a very powerful 21st Century opportunity. You just need to take the first step and enjoy the ride.

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