Friday, November 30, 2007

Tech Sherpas in Maine

Check out the Christian Science Monitor for an excellent article on Maine students helping teachers.

Related Links:
MSAD#48 Tech Club

Incidentally, check out Dan Viles's google pages website to see an excellent example of what is possible using this extremely user-friendly format. Dan also makes great use of Google Blogs and Groups and Docs for organizing content and collaborating with his students. Be sure to check them out. Wow!

Question: What do other online learning environments such as Studywiz and Moodle offer that free Google Apps doesn't have available?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Missed Christa McAuliffe? - no worries

by Sharon Betts

If you missed the CMTC this year - we are beginning day 3 as I type - don't worry.
How can you reap the rewards from home?

check out the handouts from the presenters - or look for the as you browse all the presentations.

Visit other bloggers - like BitByBit (where podcasts and videos will soon be posted)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Kindle or OLPC?

Here's the deal: You have just received a $400 certificate with the limitation that you can redeem it for either the Kindle or the OLPC laptop. Which would you choose?

Thank you to Barbara Greenstone for bringing up the discussion on books and the Kindle in an earlier post. Thinking about the difference in the experience in reading from the extremely long-lasting technology of the book to the portable digital version brings up a series of issues.

A number of people have not missed the point that the OLPC device and the Kindle can be had for the same price. The discussion that has ensued is fascinating. Check out these discussions:

The Future of Reading

Do Not Fold, Bend or Kindle

Think Macro . . .Kindle vs. XO

More on Kindle/OLPC

So . . . which would you buy?

Teampedia: Tools for Teams

Here is an excellent wiki that is collecting activities to use in helping to grow teams: Teampedia: Tools for Teams

Additional Process Skills Resources

Monday, November 26, 2007

Choosing, Doing & Sharing

I just got back from our Telstar Group 1 session this evening. I've been working with this group of 15 diverse participants for about a year now and couldn't ask for more interesting and friendly humans beings. The title of tonight's session was "Choosing, Doing & Sharing." The agenda essential question: What are the implications of choice and freedom in our society and classrooms?

To kick off the discussion, we watched two contrasting videos. One was the trailer for Pleasantville and the second was Barry Schwartz's The Paradox of Choice talk.

And a great discussion it was! I really believe this is an issue that needs to be brought more into consciousness. With choice increasing at exponential rates according to people such as Ray Kurzweil and other futurists, we need to become more self-aware of the implications. The Pleasantville/Schwartz combo makes a fine springboard for powerful discussion. Give it a try.

How do we deal with making decisions?

Session Agenda

NERC 2008 Conference on Social Studies

The 39th Northeast Regional Conference on the Social Studies, titled Social Studies: Global and Local Connections, Shared Responsibilities, will be on March 26 - 28 at Yale. More Information

The Maine Council for the Social Studies Conference

On April 2, 2008, MCSS will have its annual conference titled No Citizen Left Behind: Teaching Resources for Maine Teachers. Check it out here. It is still not too late to send in a presentation proposal.

Workshops/Conferences at Maine Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

Check out the upcoming workshops and conferences through Maine ASCD here.

Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance Workshops

MMSA has a very interesting series of workshops lined up for the next few months. Check them out here.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

So, what about the Kindle?

by Barbara Greenstone

eReaders have been around for a while but I've mostly been ignoring them. I keep telling myself that, given a choice, I'd rather read from a printed page than from a screen. In my work, of course, I do read from a computer screen - whether it's emails, chats, web articles, blogs, NoteShare notebooks, or other digital documents. I seldom print anything. But when it comes to reading for pleasure, I'd rather sit down with a book. I've been a reader for more than half a century and why change now?

Having said that, I have to admit that Amazon's Kindle has me thinking... What is it I really love about books? Is it some kind of kinesthetic pleasure from holding it and turning the pages or is it purely the content? Do I prefer print books because it's really a better reading experience or is it a bias from years of habit?

If you walk into my house you will know right away that I am a book-lover. There are bookshelves everywhere. But I don't think of myself as a true bibliophile. I think true bibliophiles love the books themselves. They care whether it's a first edition. They care about the binding and the typeface and the quality of the paper. I don't care about any of these things. I do like seeing my books on the shelves but I'm not sure why. Maybe because scanning my eclectic collection gives some clues as to who I am, or who I have become over the years.

But now I'm thinking about that Kindle and thinking I might like to try it. David Pogue gives it a mostly favorable review in the NY Times and his is an opinion I have learned over the years to trust. I'm also thinking about whether eReaders like this have a future in education. I think many of our students do not have the same print prejudices that I have and might welcome an alternative to those heavy textbooks that fill up their backpacks.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Paradox of Choice

Barry Schwartz presentation at TEDTalks

Are there any implications for education?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Promise of Teaching by TV

Is there a lesson here?

Dentistry, Car Maintenance and Online Work

I am sitting in a dentist chair as I write this. The other day I was doing my online work at Rowe Hyundai in Auburn as they changed the oil in my car. When I work late into the evening I can drop into the Market Square Restaurant for a bite to eat and borrow bandwidth, if needed, from the South Paris Public Library across the street. Very quickly access is almost to be expected in public spaces. Hotspots are increasing at a rapid rate, even up in the Western foothills of Maine.

What are your favorite WiFi hotspots in Maine?

Maine WiFi HotSpots Directory
Wifi 411

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Adult Education & Online Learning

One of my side jobs is to work with adult educators and students at Oxford Hills to investigate the possibilities of online (distance) learning for the adult ed student. The idea is to develop some options for students who might have difficulty with transportation and/or scheduling.

I'm working with Ramsey Ludlow on a U.S. History I course. We have been experimenting with the use of Google apps in delivering the instruction, trying to find out what does and does not work in using distance learning with the high school adult ed student.

Of course, as expected, we have had to punt several times for a number of reasons in order to meet the goals of the course. Initially the idea was to meet with students f2f in the evening once per month and do the rest of the course via Google groups and email. The students were very comfortable with the technology, but some had issues with the difficulty of organizing their time, due to a number of factors, to complete the assignments. So now we are back to having weekly f2f classes for that extra encouragement that being in the same room creates. The digital tools are being used within that meeting time.

We did a reflection during last evening's gathering:

Reflection on history online

1. not as independent learners as we thought
2. in class support is helpful
3. online support /discussions don't work
4. more people to respond to is better
5. support/discussion require us to make an appointment at time
6. helpful to work with others-"community of learners"

This is what the students came up with. Of course, there were the usual issues of technology reliablity and access, and all of the students hold full time jobs . . . and some are taking other courses as well. However, I'm not convinced that it simply "won't work." Ramsey and I, as well as other teachers in the OH group, will be chewing on this for the next year as part of the MARTI grant.

We'll be looking at appropriate tools, teaching methods, and scaffolding.

Please do offer your suggestions and wisdom.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sustainable Living

Anyone for sustainable living? I'll confess I've slipped terribly in my consideration for the planet earth since I was a young man. It is time for me to re-develop some balance. With that in mind, here are some links I found that speak to the issue:

Tiki the Penguin - Let's Make a Kinder World for Everyone
Sustainable Living Literature Collection for Children
NWEI - Changing Our World One Conversation at a Time

Wikipedia - Sustainable Living
Sustainable Living Network
EarthEasy - Ideas for Environomentally Sustainable Living
EnviroLink - Sustainable Living

Friday, November 16, 2007

No thought control

by Jenifer Van Deusen

Great line of thinking here! Fits in with the book, A Whole New Mind, that administrators here in Kittery have been reading. The blues tune illustrates some of Daniel Pink's point, that to thrive in this new century we need both our traditional Western logical-mathematical way of thinking AND more intuitive, creative, and playful thought - and a bunch of new resources. Consider/ respond to my reflections on this topic at
and continue playing!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I've Got The Dial Up Blues

by Martha Thibodeau

The Dial Up Blues

Remote is my geography,
So make your photos small.
If it takes too long to load
I may not look at all.

I've got the dial up blues.
My modem's 56 K,
Hardly fast enough for work,
Way too slow for play.

Watch a movie or a vlog?
You've gotta be crazy
Show me a transcript,
Download's slow and lazy.


Eliminate Elluminates,
My modem can't keep pace.
The video procrastinates
and the voice is in a race.


Even my beloved Skype
sometimes chooses to be bad,
so I drive the 2 miles to my school
for the WAN, of which I'm glad.


I wrote this about equity and access to online educational opportunities in rural vs. urban areas.

Add your own verse....

Reflecting on Sputnik

"The first educational question will not be 'what knowledge is of the most worth?' but 'what kind of humans beings do we want to produce?"

-- John Goodlad, director of The Center for Educational Renewal, University of Washington

Educational reform or educational renewal? Goodlad delineates the difference in the following article. Which approach do you prefer?

Reflecting on Sputnik: Linking the Past, Present, and Future of Educational Reform
Beyond McSchool: A Challenge to Educational Leadership

Grim Prospects

"We are engaged in a grim duel. We are beginning to recognize the threat to American technical supremacy which could materialize if ___________ succeeds in its ambitious program of achieving world scientific and engineering supremacy by turning out vast numbers of well-trained scientists and engineers...We have let our educational problem grow much too big for comfort and safety. We are beginning to see now that we must solve it without delay."
Anyone care to guess who said this, when it was said, and to what country he is referring?

Hint: It is not China, India . . . or even Japan.


"Playing with Time"

Playing with Time
is a great site for learning about the possibilities in time-lapse photography.

A neat piece of software for time-lapse video is call iStopMotion. Try the demo to see what you think.

Other Links:

Create a Time-Lapse Movie
CreativeTech: Create Time-lapse Videos with iMovie HD
Time Lapse Photography in Education

Monday, November 12, 2007

Will Transliteracy Be Coming to Maine?

by Ernie Easter

I read David Warlick's 2 Cents Worth this morning and was struck by his comment about transliteracy.

From David Warlick 2 Cents on 11/9/07
"I continue to be encouraged by the momentum that seems to be building toward modernizing classrooms with technology, but focusing on the why, and fueling with information and information skills. I opened up my chat program for the workshops yesterday, and someone who signed in as ASaylor started with a comment, “transliteracy is the topic.“ I’m still rolling this one around in my mind, but, according to the Production and Research in Transliteracy group blog,

is the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks."
I've always been uncomfortable with the concept of “digital literacy” - feeling that something was missing as I've taught and discussed this concept with my class of 7th and 8th graders. It has always seemed to me that students (and their teachers) need to be more than just literate in today's digital world. It is the concept of the ability to “interact across a range of platforms, tools, and media” that I skirted with without being able to identify or articulate it.

This concept of transliteracy piqued my interest, but will it be the next development that pushes the envelope and causes some teachers to expand their ideas while simultaneously threatening to overwhelm others?

For further reading and discussion about Transliteracy see Production and Research in Transliteracy and Participatory Media Literacy

Ernie Easter
7th and 8th Grade Teacher
New Sweden School
New Sweden, Maine

New Sweden Student Exhibits at Maine Memory Network

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Student-Led Conferences

I've been a fan of student-led conferences since the first time I used it as a fifth grade teacher. Until that time I had no idea of the power of this simple approach. Of course, like anything, preparation and practice make all the difference. Here is some background information:

Student Led Conferences

The Highs and Lows of Parent-Teacher Conferences
Student-Led Conference

What is your experience with student-led conferences?

TLC, itziane's photostream. 7 Mar 2007. 12 April 2007 <http://>.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Read Aloud & Baby Einstein

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." — Emilie Buchwald

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." — Groucho Marx

"Reading aloud with children is known to be the single most important activity for building the knowledge and skills they will eventually require for learning to read."
— Marilyn Jager Adams

Story 1

I observed a fascinating scene the other day at Mountain Valley Middle School. It was library time for the eight graders in social studies teacher Zack Thompson's class. Students were exploring the books in the library, having the opportunity to choose what they wished to read. I was sitting at one side of the room finishing some work up on my laptop as I caught Zack pick up what I believe was Robert McCloskey's Blueberries for Sal, which he started quietly reading aloud to a couple of young ladies. As he read, other students gathered around him, looking on and listening quietly. I was struck by the connection and appreciation that showed in their faces as Zack read. He had them mesmerized with this very simple act. There was enchantment in this scene, with these tall adolescents drinking in this read-aloud experience. Moral of story: We are never too old to be read to by someone else, and it isn't just the "information" . . . it's the human connection.

Story 2

Many parents and grandparents have purchased one or more of the Baby Einstein video series with the thought that these pleasant and colorful presentations would help develop the abilities of infants. I am one of them. When my children were young, I recall reading that new-borns found the colors red, blue, and yellow particularly appealing . . . so wanting my children to develop as optimally as possible, I made sure there were mobiles and other objects that would make the environment as stimulating as possible.

It appears now according to a recent study that perhaps the use of the Einstein videos can actually harm a child's development. Who would have thought? Well actually, in the end, perhaps it has to do more with human closeness or bonding being such an important ingredient in learning. Moral: We can't plop our children in front of machines for endless hours, no matter how colorful and engaging, and expect great outcomes.

How do we stay connected to our kids?

What do we lose by moving learning to machines?

Have any recommendations for read-aloud books?

Read Aloud Resources
Alliance for Children: Computers and Children

Thursday, November 8, 2007

One-to-One in Alaska

Did you know that Alaskan schools have a 1-to-1 laptop program and standards-based learning combined, in several places, with an expeditionary learning model?

Check these links:

TechLearning - 1-to-1 in Alaska

Starting at the End

Educators' Resource Guide to the Alaskan Standards

Chugach School District

Making Performance-based Learning Work in Alaska

Does Maine have anything to learn from Alaska's model?


Tim Ouillette of the Advanced Communications and Multimedia Program at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School reports that his students participated in the Apple 24 Hour Film Festival.

Check out some of the work at:

Video Resources

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Late Arrival Model for PLCs

Two of the school systems with which I work, MSAD#43 Mountain Valley and MSAD#21 Dirigo, have late-arrival days every Wednesday. In other words, students come to school an hour later than usual and educators have valuable time when they are fresh for pursuing professional development. My opinion: It works very well! I know it is well-spent time at Mountain Valley and Dirigo, at the very least. I highly recommend it for ongoing PLC work. Teachers have an opportunity to share leadership roles to develop skills and understandings in a variety of areas. Mountain Valley Middle School is focusing on literacy and school climate and culture. Dirigo Middle School is focusing on literacy and a variety of other areas.

To me, this is a vast improvement over full day teacher workshops where some keynote speaker or presenter is imported to "talk at" the staff. One of the problems with the full day workshops is that it is not ongoing. And for some odd reason, from my observation, the early arrival time is usually much better organized due to the sharing of responsibilies and the awareness of time limitations. After all, the kids will be arriving in an hour. It just tends to focus attention better and make for a more efficient agenda.

Any other systems doing something similar? What do you think? Is there a downside?

Related Article

"Now I'm Thinking . . ."

At the Mountain Valley Middle School "late-arrival" session this morning, I took part in a simple, yet very effective, activity called "Now I'm Thinking." Donna Morse and Don Fuller facilitated the activity using the mysteries of Area 51 as the content and further embellished it with a slideshow of heavenly bodies and a musical interlude of the Star Wars Theme. This was all part of the ongoing literacy initiative at this school.

The activity included a series of reflections with additional information to read being distributed between reflections. So it was like this:

I'm thinking . . .

(more information)
Now I'm thinking . . .
(more information)
Now I'm thinking . . .
(and so on)

The whole point, of course, was to take a look at information sources and work on evaluating information. When you think of it, what is more important than developing a set of skills for all of us to make sense of the information that bombards us every day from every direction?

Can the information be trusted?
Who wrote it?
What gives them authority?
How do we determine the truth when there is conflicting information?

What do you use in your school to help students question the information that is so readily available?

Evaluating Information Resources
Questioning Resources
Critical Thinking Resources
Who Is It?
Way Back Machine
Logical Fallacy Resources
Propaganda and Advertising Resources

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Noteshare Reprise

I worked with two 8th grade language arts classes Monday morning on the basics of Noteshare in my quest for Oxford Hills Middle School teachers and students to understand the power of this MLTI laptop application. We downloaded Barbara Greenstone's "Reading Journal" at the ACTEM Noteshare Server < > using the Noteshare share menu and shared it on the network. I'm always amazed at how quickly students catch on to the utility of this versatile tool. The sessions culminated with students setting up classroom vocabulary notebooks. Sure wish I had more time to devote to Noteshare.

Any other happenings with Noteshare out there?

Earlier Posts on Noteshare

Monday, November 5, 2007

Alice as a learning tool

by Ed Latham

A good friend of mine totally ruined my level of productivity for most of the day today. Becky Ranks offered up link to Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture". I am so happy that she shared this wonderful link with me. I believe everyone should see what this impressive man has to say. We can all accomplish so much if we can live in such a positive mind set every day.

As I was looking for a way to download his video, I stumbled across the original lecture he presented at Carnegie Mellon. I watched the entire thing and heard him reference a great tool for teaching everyone, even young girls, the art of programming. Pausch was part of the team that developed Alice. Alice is a three dimensional world building program that allows anyone to program without having to know all the nasty technical stuff that the computer geeks need to know. I have always loved programming and feel that many of our students today can learn everything in Algebra, Geometry, AlgebraII and all the other stuffy mathematics courses that students may be forced to endure. It has been my experience that students love to program if you give them the right tools and worthwhile ventures. So I spent most of my morning looking into Alice and I have to say I was impressed and will be downloading that program shortly. You may want to look at their introduction videos here. (2 videos here)

There are many tools out there that can help our kids learn math through programming and I have explored many of them. Each one offers students a simple way to experience the joys of programming without the thousands of hours of frustration that was necessary in the past. What used to take months of programming lists of numbers to get a simple ball bouncing on a screen can now be done by dragging and dropping, a few clicks and choosing some properties. All that power is not available in just minutes and even your grandmother can do it (sorry if your grandma is a computer engineer). Best of all the programs are all free! Yes, you heard me right, free. So much fuss in education over money and lack of resources and yet we have these gems right there for the taking. Most of them have been developed by major universities and educational foundations with the intent of making programming easy and rich. Abstract operations in Algebra finally have concrete examples and a purpose for students when students dive into programming.

I am inspired by Dr. Pausch speech and very interested in exploring Alice some more so I have to get going before my entire day is shot. If there are teachers out there looking for support in bringing programming into mathematics classes please invite me to your discussions. I currently work with teachers and do not have a math class of my own to work with, but I would love the opportunity to work with and support teachers that are in the field that are interested in using these powerful tools in their classrooms.

I have included a list of the programming languages I have used with students and had great success (Alice makes the list even though I have not tried it yet). All of these are free and they run on all operating systems. I have put them in order of easiest/best/ones I like best when working with students.

StarLogoTNG which allows 3d programming using only puzzle like pieces that drag, drop, and click together
Game Maker from Yo Yo Games - an incredible collection of easy to use tools
Squeak, a really neat mutation of Smalltalk programming that puts old Logo to shame
Netlogo - not quite as graphically oriented as the others but is a powerful simulation language that is easy to use.

Currently looking into:
Alice - Looking into it now, but EA Games just donated tons of graphics to help educators and students to succeed in programming

If you teach math and want some way to reach your students that are not successful, please find the time to look at some of these options. If you have looked into these tools and would like to post your experiences, I would love to hear from you as well and look forward to your posts!

I may not have finished up the webpages and hum-drum stuff I needed to get done today, but Becky has helped me get motivated in life and introduced me to a cool tool. Thank you my friend!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

50 Ways to Encourage the Use of Technology by Maine Learners

This is a brainstorming session. Simply add your ideas, feeling free to "piggyback" on earlier ideas. Perhaps at some point the list can be refined and consolidated into a list of 50.

As ideas are added in comments, I'll paste them in this post, giving credit to the originator.

Here's a start:

50 Ways to Encourage the Use of Technology by Maine Learners

1. Connect at where the learner is, not where we think they should be. (Jim Burke)
2. Use user-friendly applications (JB)
3. It is okay to ask for help and to make mistakes (Michael Richards)
4. Use common language not "geek-speak" (MR)
5. Incorporate technology into familiar situations (MR)
6. Provide compelling and meaningful reasons for learning and using technology (Cynthia Curry)
7. Students can become the handy ambassadors of technology usage. (Kern Kelley)
8. Do not be afraid. (Deborah White)
9. Model you own use of tech tools. (based on Will Richardson at ACTEM) (DW)
10. Remember the words of Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus series, "Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!" (DW)
11. Remember what you feel like when YOU learn something new. (Ed Latham)
12. Include an atmosphere of fun and exploration in as many activities as you can. (EL)
13. Never underestimate the power of play. (EL)
14. Get comfortable with students being in charge of their learning with your role being to set things up and assist them on their journey. EL)
15. ?
16. ?
17. . .

50 Ways

50 Web 2.0 Ways To Tell a Story

Fifty Ways to Take Notes

Fifty Ways to Increase Your Productivity

50 Tools to Improve Your Writing

50 Ways of Solving a Problem

50 Way to Improve Your Life

50 Ways to Leave Your . . . Term Paper or Book Report

Any other "50 Ways" lists to add? Any that need to be created?

Added by Mrs. W. (Deborah White)

50 Ways to Save Our Children
50 Ways to Promote Peace
50 Ways to Do Something Besides a Report
50 Ways Parents Can Help Schools
50 Ways to confuse, worry, or just plain scare people in the computer lab
50 ways to stuff zucchini

Added on 1/5/08

50 Ways You Can Be the Change

Friday, November 2, 2007

MacBook Help Video

by Kern Kelley

Some of the students in our Nokomis Warrior Broadcasting class are working on a weekly technology help show for students and teachers. This was their first outing where they cover the new MacBooks the High School teachers received.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Tool: Dominoes

What can we learn from a set of dominoes?

Wikipedia: Dominoes
Domino Math Printable: Activities and Worksheets
(Can create templates from this site)

eHOW: How to Play Dominoes
Illuminations: Do It with Dominoes
The Mathematics of Dominoes
Math Games: Domino Graphs

A Way of Looking at Technology Integration

A handy tool for looking at where we are in using technology in our classrooms is called Grappling's Technology & Learning Spectrum. A one-page version is here. It divides experience into three categories: Literacy uses, adapting uses and transforming uses.

This is just part of the work of Bernajean Porter. Her down-to-earth approach offers many opportunities for discussion and assessment. Good stuff!

Where do you think your school is on this continuum?