Thursday, January 31, 2008

Feeling Good!

What a great day this has been! First Ed Latham, Olga LaPlante, Ron Smith and Martha Thibodeau quickly came to the rescue to cover for my procrastination in completing some pre-training requirements that I need to do in preparation for training sessions next week at Augusta. Just ask . . . and these Maine eMINTS Mentors, including Becky Ranks and Anne Ireland, are there for support when you find yourself in a quandary. I've been blessed to be part of this statewide PLC.

Add to that the delightful educators of my eMINTS One group at Telstar, who in my absence at our scheduled Monday session, will be taking over all my responsibilities . . . without complaint. They will be reporting back to this blog about their discoveries come Monday evening. Again, a great example of the best in PLCs. I am very fortunate.

LD 2174

LD 2174 An Act Regarding Curriculum Requirements and Standards for Awarding a High School Diploma


Does this bill encourage or hinder innovation and out-of-the-box thinking for schools?

Will this bill make it easier or more difficult to lower administrative cost?

Regional Forums - Information Letter #74

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Bat, the Birds, and the Beasts

A great conflict was about to come off between the Birds and the Beasts. When the two armies were collected together the Bat hesitated which to join. The Birds that passed his perch said: "Come with us"; but he said: "I am a Beast." Later on, some Beasts who were passing underneath him looked up and said: "Come with us"; but he said: "I am a Bird." Luckily at the last moment peace was made, and no battle took place, so the Bat came to the Birds and wished to join in the rejoicings, but they all turned against him and he had to fly away. He then went to the Beasts, but soon had to beat a retreat, or else they would have torn him to pieces. "Ah," said the Bat, "I see now."

"He that is neither one thing nor the other has no friends."

One of my side jobs is to work with adult education teachers through the MARTI grant in investigating ways of making use of computer technology in their work with adult learners. Little did I know how much I would be learning by working in this area that focuses on life-long learning. It certainly has been an eye-opening experience.

This evening I spent several hours at the "Little Yellow Schoolhouse" with Ramsey Ludlow and her students. The topic was one of my favorites: Aesop's Fables. Such simple yet powerful stories always seem to strike a chord with students, no matter what the age. The above quoted story led to heart-felt personal stories from the students about the reasons they dropped out of high school. Ultimately it was because they felt like the bat.

Sometimes I wonder why we put so much attention on standards and testing in order to encourage student growth when the real issues are much more personal and connected with our culture.

Fables are a great take-off point for critical thinking for all ages . . . and are readily available on the web.

One of my all-time favorite teaching tools in my years as an elementary teacher was Albert Cullum's Aesop in the Afternoon, which is as timely now as when it was first published. Highly recommended. The other "modern" fable that generates great interest for all ages in George Orwell's Animal Farm, which never failed to get my fifth graders thinking.

Know any bats?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Curiosity . . . Learning: A Risky Business

From Jeff Bailey's Maine Ideas in Education:

"I was in a great discussion the other day with a colleague about the idea of curiosity. We were doing our usual toiling with the question of why students aren't motivated to learn; they don't seem to pick up skills from the classroom or the world around them. We came to the point wishing we could have students who were more curious. We, both of us being high school teachers, wondered what happens to students between that time in elementary school where curiosity is abound, and the time they enroll in our classes." Continued . . .

Microorganisms & Noteshare

Amanda Leavitt of Gray New Gloucester Middle School shares her experiences using Noteshare in the study of microorganisms in her class. She starts . . . .

"I had a brainstorm! An epic moment, an epiphany, if you will. I was going to create a Note Share lab report notebook. In this notebook, kids would follow the basic format of the lab report, until the results section. There, they would narrate movies I had created using the digital microscope. Students would use the movies to describe what they saw, what they knew about microorganisms, and so on. It seemed like pure genius." Continued . . .

Understanding the Big Ideas

Conference at Samoset on April 14-15, 2008: Unifying Themes in the New Maine Learning Results - Understanding the Big Ideas! A few spots left. Register.

Noteshare . . . Handing-In Assignment

Ann Bell of Oxford Hills Middle School came back enthusiastic about using Noteshare after attending a workshop in Auburn with Barbara Greenstone. She has successfully created and shared over the local network her notebook on matter. Anne sees great possibilities with this tool in her daily classroom work. But she had a question that has me stumped:

Is there a drop-box function in the Noteshare book that allows only the teacher to see the completed assignment that has been completed and dragged (using folio) or copy/pasted by the student? She would prefer not to use the email route because of the distraction it might cause. Of course, the old "sneaker net" using a thumb drive could be a solution . . . but is there a simpler way? I vaguely remember hearing that there was a way during trainings, but after going through the help menus, couldn't seem to find the answer. Barbara? :) Anyone?

Middle School Noteshare Workshop Dates
Earlier Posts Relating to Noteshare
Noteshare Links at Learning in Maine Resources Wiki

Saturday, January 26, 2008

LIM Resources Wiki

An annex to Learning in Maine has been created at WikiSpaces:

Learning in America Wiki

In order to edit, you must click on the "Join this Space" text in the upper left of the opening page and fill in the necessary information. Once that is completed, feel free to add pages and edit earlier pages. (Note: Membership needs to be approved before editing can commence after you've signed up. Jeff Bailey, thank you for being the first tester and for filling out the application to be the first to join. I've approved it with a single click and will try to make future approvals as quickly as possible . . . now that I know how it works).

School Consolidation Podcast at Skelton, Taintor & Abbott

Sign up to listen to School Consolidation discussion.

Related Information
Google News Search on "Maine School Consolidation"

Friday, January 25, 2008

School Webpage

by Marc Gendron - Superintendent MSAD 20

My web person is using Word and Frontpage to create and post content. We are now considering Dreamweaver. Is there anything easier and user-friendly. Word is limiting and Frontpage seems to give us problems. Any advice welcome.

Vocational Education Resources

When I was up at UMPI a couple of days go, I spoke with Houlton vocational teacher, Fred Pelletier. He wanted to know if there were any good online vocational education sites. I had to admit that I had never searched in this area, so this morning, with trusty coffee cup in hand, I tested the waters. The best comprehensive site on vocational education that I could find was the Vocational Information Center. The other one that seemed to show promise was a Kathy Schrock page on Vocational Education. That's a start.

Who has others to add to the list?

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Last Spring Telstar science teacher, Bill Caddigan, was involved in the Teacher at Sea program which is documented here. I collaborated with Bill and Susan Kany (our delightful and efficient proofreader/editor) on making daily updates to the site.

It was that experience that introduced me to the importance of phytoplankton. Fast forward to today: Phil Brookhouse posted an online opportunity at MaineLearns called "When is Dinner Served? Predicting Ocean Phytoplankton Blooms"

Any interest?

Educators as Enemies

"We've made the mistake of thinking that because we measure achievement in schools, that's the only place it's produced. We conveniently ignore what goes on before the child arrives in school. We find it easy to overlook what's happening outside the classroom, and we act as though the choices students and their families make don't matter."

~ James Harvey

Article in New Horizons for Learning: "Nation's Students still at Risk" by James Harvey.

Related resource: Poverty & Discipline at Mike Muir's McMEL Resources Wiki


Online Web Applications for Young Children

I would like to start a list of well-implemented interactive online web applications for young children (pre-school/primary). Of course I've known about Starfall for several years and am aware that it is being used by many parents and teachers. Still highly recommended for helping children to learn some very basic skills. Last week I discovered Kindersay, which is simple yet very effective and user-friendly. Today I found myself very impressed with Kerpoof which Oxford Hills teacher, Richard Byrne, reviews in depth in his blog.

What others should be added to the list?

PrimaryGames (See Richard Bryne's review on his blog)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

CACE eMINTS Workshop

A Central Aroostock Council on Education eMINTS Workshop is happening today at the University of Maine in Presque Isle. Five eMINTS mentors are teaming up to share possible solutions to teaching issues as well as to introduce the eMINTS philosophy. The focus is on Smartboard utilization, presentation tools, and internet resources.

If you are a participant, please leave a comment . . .

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Growing Up Online

By Richard Byrne

Growing Up Online is on PBS right now. I'm writing a running diary of the program on my blog right now. This is a program every teacher should watch. You can watch the video by clicking the image on the left.

Here is an excerpt from my running diary made while watching the documentary for the first time. (I was writing and watching so I apologize if it appears a little choppy).

The show opens with a parent talking about how it is easier for him to connect to his child via email than in person. The child then discusses how he circumvents the parental controls on AOL. How many kids in your classes are capable of circumventing firewalls and filters? Probably more than you think.

The show then moves to a high school in Chatham, NJ where every teacher is using a Smartboard or LCD projector (I wish I had that at my school). The principal states how important it is to meet students where they are. Students multitask in all aspects of their lives so they should do the same at school. This is one of the best arguments for integrating technology.

9:50- Dannah Boyd (Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society)- makes a great point. The answer is not to "stop MySpace" and social networking sites, but to teach students how to be good citizens online. How much of a role as teachers do we have in this process?

This is a program that every parent and teacher should watch with their children and students respectively. It will be an eye-opener for many parents and teachers. Watching the program with your children or students will give you their thoughts about online life. The bottom line- the Internet is an integral part of students' lives, as teachers we need to acknowledge and plan for that fact.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Blogging Question

by Ed Latham

I have recently started up a blog for my technophobe father. This blog journals the travels of a family teddy bear as my parents travel the country learning about places, people, history, and values. The blog is aimed at educating and entertaining family and friends with just enough information and attitude to keep things light and interesting.

We need help from experienced bloggers. When you embed video or slide shows into a blog, those items automatically start downloading when someone enters your blog. Just take a look at your status bar while you read this blog. That thing will keep cranking for tons of time trying to load up all the juicy tid-bits that are on this blog, regardless of how often you visit this blog. The contents of Learning in Maine continually expands as do many well attended blogs. Is there a way to structure a blog so that people can catch all the text when they visit, but video and other embedded materials are available on demand (like when they click a link or something)? I have thought of just doing a webpage with previews that are linked to the slide show files, but that method does not allow me to continue to push Dad's development so that we can collaboratively post content. He can handle posting to Zoho a whole lot easier than messing with web page design :)

Some of the family members visiting my new blog have very slow Internet connections. They have expressed frustration at waiting for a long time for things to load up when they visit the blog that only has 4 Zoho presentations embedded. Maybe there is a lighter format for posting slide shows? I am open to all suggestions. My parents have new content to add almost every two weeks as they continue on their seasonal nomadic journeys. I am concerned that slow load times will deter some who may want to enjoy the content of the site.

You can visit the site here: Adventures of Ted Edward if you wish to see what we have set up so far. Dad wants it simple right now so that's where we are at : )

I thank any of you that may have ideas to offer. Do I work to change the format of the slide shows to smaller content? Do I change the format of the blog so things can be clicked on demand somehow? Is there a snazzy way to prevent blogs, like Learning in Maine from loading every piece of content when you visit the site?

More than One Google Account - A Solution

by Kern Kelley

For anyone with more than one Google account who's tired of logging out and in again and uses Firefox - I have the addon for you! (or two actually.)

First install the Grease Monkey Firefox add-on. Grease Monkey "Allows you to customize the way a webpage displays using small bits of JavaScript" but it's certainly more geared to the technically minded. The good thing is many people have made scripts to share like:

Second go to and install it. Once you are logged into your Google Account, where it had once said Sign Out, it now has a pull down to easily switch between different accounts.

For anyone not familiar with Google Apps here's a previous post about what's offered.

ACTEM OnTiME Podcasts

One way to stay in the loop on what is going on in Maine educational technology is to listen to the ACTEM Podcast called OnTiME.

Maine Classics

Interested in Latin and the Classics in Maine?

Check out Ben Johnson's MaineClassics

OLPC In Action

by Richard Byrne

I have been following the development of the OLPC project since I first heard about it almost two years ago. Honestly, I was very excited when OLPC announced earlier this month that they are making the computers available in the United States. (Many of the ten-years-old computers being used in my district can be out performed by the OLPC machines).

The slide show I've posted was made at the Galadima Primary School in Abuja, Nigeria. The audio accompanying the slide show has a number of quotes from teachers and students regarding the OLPC laptops. I found this quote from Mr. Olayinka particularly interesting, "When the laptop came it opened the eyes of the teachers and the pupils." Mr. Olayinka's statement made me wonder how much, if any in some cases, the laptops provided by MLTI have opened the eyes of the teachers and students I work with. I know there are many ways in which MLTI laptops can help Maine teachers, but how do we go about getting everyone to embrace technology integration? Have the MLTI laptops opened the eyes of the teachers and students you work with?

Note: This is my first post on this blog. Jim Burke invited me to be an author last week, thank you Jim. Jim wrote a nice post about me, my blog, and my role in teaching teachers to integrate technology in Oxford Hills. Thank you again Jim.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Promoting Academia

by Harold Shaw Jr.

Good day to all!

I am going to have my students prepare a PPT presentation on WHO AM I and when discussing it with them last week they asked me to prepare an example of what I wanted. As you can see this going to be part of the presentation. I haven't changed a bit!!!!! yeah right. Does anyone else dare to share their H.S Graduation picture and maybe a comparison picture or at least a link. Something fun to do?

Well I just registered at the University of Phoenix - Online CED 515 Secondary Methods of Teaching Technology to take one of the two courses I need to take by 2010 for teacher recertification yesterday. Yes, I do enjoy taking college classes and despite some of my previous tongue-in-cheekiness - I have a great deal of respect for most of academia. The course itself sounds very interesting.

Course Description: This course focuses on technology teaching methods, the process of integrating technology into curricula, and advocating for technology utilization at the secondary level. Students will learn methods to evaluate and enhance learning. Students will also analyze exemplary lesson plans that incorporate technology, create lesson plans, and units for the secondary grade levels. In addition, an overview of strategies for educational technology leadership will be provided. UOPX Course Catalog

So although I don't start until March 18, I am looking forward to learning more about this technology in teaching in a more shall we say "disciplined" environment.

Then I remembered a blog/promotion from the first of the year from Microsoft about their "Ultimate Steal" program for registered college students. Well it seemed as though I qualified, and registered for their program. I have wanted to upgrade for a while and this gave me the opportunity to get Microsoft Office 2007 Ultimate for a very, very reasonable price. So far I tend to agree that Office 2007 ribbon is a much better way to navigate (just in a short time it seems more intuitive) and wish they had used it more in Outlook (perhaps they will later).

Otherwise, I have had a real busy weekend correcting papers. I really have to give credit to my students! I gave them an assignment to write a letter to themselves in 20 years. Yeah I got the usual family, career, wife, kids and where they will be living, but I also got predictions on the presidential election, effects of global warming and if they were in careers that would be helping others. I thought it was actually a pretty good assignment and was pleased with level of effort that the students gave.

Personally, I have run two miles, two days in a row and although I know the hip is there, it is a bearable sort of discomfort. So I can get back on that bet with Bill and loose those 15 pounds, but Mary just made a whole batch of Chocolate No-bake cookies. She is soooo mean, but I do love her.

Well I have made a promise to myself as part of my lessons learned to stay close to 500 words unless, I have something very important to say. But it is hard, once I start writing it is like a switch has been turned on the words just seem to flow out of my fingers without a hardly any effort. But then I have to go back and proofread what my fingers did, that is the issue isn't it. The word count says I am done have a great day --

I just noticed that Jim put my name up with some pretty high flyers in the blogging world, and I thank you for the compliment. But putting me on the same page as the rest of that group is not really appropriate, as they are some of the movers and shakers of the online educational community and I certainly am not. I am simply a teacher from a small school in central Maine. I certainly don't belong in that select group. But thank you Jim -- it did kind of make my day.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Social Networking Debate

"Social networks advertise access to this diverse world while simultaneously confining users to affinity groups so as to sell, sell, sell."

~ Michael Bugeja

Pro, Con & Debate at the Economist on the following proposition:

Social networking technologies will bring large (positive) changes to educational methods, in and out of the classroom.


Ewan McIntosh
Harold Shaw
Will Richardson
Danah Boyd
Stephen Downes

Advertising in the year 2050: The Minority Report . . .

The Future of Advertising with Google CEO Eric Schmidt

WordWatch: Echo Chamber

Cognitive Dissonance

Friday, January 18, 2008

Laptop Squad

How is your high school MLTI Leadership Team functioning? Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School's Laptop Squad is alive and well. According to social studies teacher, Richard Byrne, the "squad" meets once a week and also offers Tech Tuesday in room A110 from 2:15 to 3:15 to help people familiarize themselves with the software installed on the MLTI MacBooks and web applications. This week there will be an introduction to Keynote. Richard has created a blog called Free Technology for Teachers to further assist in the collaboration.

What is happening in other Maine high schools?

Professional Learning Communities
Capacity Building in Maine


by Harold Shaw, Jr.

Jim kindly invited me to write on this forum, so I will quickly share my thoughts about being in school today. I took a picture out my classroom window and will add it later tonight.

Well another snow day for the rest of the local education world, yet here I am sitting at work, getting ready to greet the students after an hour delay. Not whining too much, but it sure would be nice to be sitting on the couch curled up with a good book looking out at the snow coming down, instead of driving in this morning. Oh well, I can think of what I will be doing after June 6, when they will still be going to school. tongue_out

It still amazes me the number vehicles that are off the road when I came in this morning. You would think by now that with all the nasty weather we have had that drivers would have the common sense to slow down. It is easy to go fast on a clear day, but attempting to go the same speed on a day like today??? Oh well, I guess they forget that it isn't the going, it is the stopping, turning and sudden accelerations that get you in trouble. I still like the piece of advice my father gave me about four-wheel drive -- "it just means you walk farther when you get stuck". Oh well, their problem not mine.

Well I am recovering well from that ladder ride I had. I re-joined my gym and ran on the treadmill for a mile -- really slow 9:35, but it seemed to help my hip a lot. Then I luxuriated in the sauna for 30:00 minutes, now I remember why I like the sauna so much. I sit there and sort of meditate or is it vegging, but it allows me to just wind down a little from the constant barrage of information, distraction and confusion that we are constantly subjected to in today's world.

I think we would all be better off if we took a 20-30 minute timeout from our lives and just simply let go.

Thoughts Blog

Thursday, January 17, 2008


The network begins at home. Isn't there MUCH more we can do to make the existing learning environments more social, collaborative and meaningful whether electricity is involved or not? Why do we constantly jump from melodramatic tales of school to some utopian world of online alchemy?

~ Gary Stager
The quote above is from a recent post by Stager at Stager-to-Go.

IMHO, these are essential questions that are increasingly being dismissed by technocrats and other true-believer change enthusiasts.

To once again quote Neil Postman in Informing Ourselves to Death:

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."

Are we hoping that technology will SAVE the world?

What IS progress?

Related Links:

Technological Singularity
Ethics of Technology

Maine Libraries

This afternoon I was at the Norway Memorial Library using their downstairs meeting room for the Oxford Hills Adult Education MARTI Video Workshop. Norway, Maine has less than five thousand residents and is not a wealthy community, and yet, it has an incredible library.

Now I'm not going into the details of why it is such a wonderful place to be. Check it out yourself, should you be in town. Suffice it to say, I'm sure there are many other libraries in the State that are delightful places to be as well. Care to share your favorites?

I've loved libraries and librarians since a very young age. My first library was the Mexico Public Library, directly across the Androscoggin River from the local papermill in Rumford. The librarian at that time in 1960 was Mrs. Bradeen. I'm not sure how old she actually was, but she seemed ancient with her conservative clothes and her grey hair brought back tightly into a bun. She took her job seriously, was quite stern about any shenanigans, and insisted that we use extremely quiet voices . . . and then only when needed.

Then one late afternoon it happened. It was a moment in time that was to color the rest of my life: I was casually riding my bike on the street in back of the library and inadvertently caught Edna Bradeen locking up the library, ready to go home. Her hair was down, flowing over a black leather jacket when she jumped on her Harley, gave it a powerful start-up kick . . . and left a trail of dust as she roared down Main Street. (At least that is how I remember it. Please, I don't want to know the actual truth).

Ever since that point, I've seen every librarian in the same light. They might seem mild on the outside, but look out for the fire inside! :)

Maine State Library
Auburn Public Library
MARVEL - Maine's Virtual Library
Find a Library in Maine
Maine Library Association
Maine Association of School Libraries

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Oxford Hills MARTI Video Workshop

We'll be investigating the possibilities that online videos have in promoting learning in the adult education field tomorrow. Here is the workshop agenda.

Anything you can add to the offerings?

What are your experiences accessing online video for classroom use?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Scholarship Blog

by Kern Kelley is a great blog from the Guidance Department of MSAD #48 about scholarships available for students. They also include tips for completing scholarships and it's updated regularly.

Hshawjr's Thoughts

Here's a link to still another fascinating Maine teacher blog: Hshawjr's Thoughts.

Looking for other Maine educator blogs . . . . got any leads?

Noteshare Training for Maine Middle School Educators

Info & Registration

Hancock Region:

* February 5 at Hancock County Higher Education Center, Ellsworth
* February 6 at William Cohen School, Bangor

MidCoast Region:

* January 29 at Great Salt Bay CSD, Damariscotta

Western Region:

* January 30 at Auburn Central Office
* February 4 in Dixfield at the Richardson Hollow Associates Building

York Region:

* January 31 at Biddeford Middle School

Ubiquitous Tools for Collaboration

Tired of proprietary tools that limit participation because of complexity, operating system, learning curve, or administrative hurdles? Why not use these straight-forward tools for digital collaboration?

Google Apps
Imagination Cubed

What other possibilities are there? What are your experiences with any of these tools?

Reporting Out on Books and Stories

More Ideas Than You'll Ever Use for Book Reports

How to Write a Book Report

75 Ways to Share a Book

Book Report Ideas - Web English Teacher

Bloom's Taxonomy Book Review Questions

eCoach - Instead-of Book Reports


There are increasing opportunities to find books and stories online. Of course, the Gutenberg Project started it all, Google is in the middle of a ambitious process of digitizing books and WikiBooks is promoting open source books. Below find some other sites to check out:

Project Gutenburg

Bartleby.Com E-Book Store - Great Books Online


UT Library Online - Electronic Books

The Online Books Page

Internet Public Libary: Free Online Books

Free Online Books At The Free Well

Children's Books Online

Aesop's Fables

IPL List of Online Book Sites


Folk and Fairy Tales

Online Children's Stories

Free Online Classic Children's Stories

Authorama Public Domain Books

Online Books, Poems, Short Stories

The Online Books Page

Google Books

Children's Storybooks Online

From Kern Kelley:

Universal Digital Library

Monday, January 14, 2008

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics)

Anita Bernhardt is the new Science and Technology Specialist at DOE.

"Sage on the Stage"

Want some top-notch lectures from people at the top of their fields at your fingertips? I had already discovered the stimulating TED Talks. This morning I discovered the wealth of knowledge at iTunes U. Wow! Why had I missed this before?

Any other comprehensive lecture/talk sites I might have missed?

* David Patterson has opened my eyes to Pop Tech . . . held right here in Maine. Good stuff!

* Another excellent site: Ed Latham recommends Free Online Education. Amazing! Thanks, Ed.

What are the implications of this development?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

"I have a dream . . ."

"I say to you today even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream that is deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed."
MLK Resources @ 42Explore
The Seattle Times: Martin Luther King Jr.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project at Stanford University
Martin Luther King, Jr. and Black History Month
MLK Resources @ Scholastic

MLK Resources @ Education World
MLK Resources @ TeachersFirst

Martin Luther King, Jr. . . . a nation remembers
Wikipedia: Martin Luther King, Jr.
MLK Resources @ Webtech
MLK Jr. Resources
Prejudice & Intolerance Resources
Bullying Resources
Evaluating Information Resources
Citizenship Resources
Conflict Resolution Resources
Logical Fallacy Resources
Propaganda & Advertising Resources

Classic site as an example for evaluating websites:
Whois search
“The moral bottom has dropped out of our culture. Americans have no compelling incentive to postpone gratification, because they no longer believe in the future.… There is only one cure for the malady that afflicts our culture, and that is to speak the truth about it."

~ Christopher Lasch

Do we still have hopes and dreams for a better future?

OLPC to Be Distributed to U.S. Students

Article in PC World about U.S. Distribution

One Laptop Per Child Site

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Do you see what I see?

by Jeff Bailey

Note: This is a cross post from Maine Ideas in Education

As one of the staff members in my building that has the unofficial responsibility of supporting technology integration I am constantly re-explaining how to set up, configure, build or find things for teachers. We recently changed our web publishing tool in district and somehow I got tagged with the responsibility of training anyone who was interested in how to make and maintain their web page on the school server. I could already see the 40 separate one-on-one sessions I was going to have to have to explain the nuances of the process and I wondered how I would survive. As in most cases, I was able to find a technology tool that would help me be more productive.

A screen cast when you use a program to record what is happening on your computer screen. Most of these tools let you include audio (usually your voice) from your computer's microphone. This is perfect for those of you who have to explain things on a computer screen often. Screen capture is similar but only takes a still image of your screen and some screen capture programs let you draw on, circle and type on top of the image to point things out or give direction. Surprisingly, many of these tools, which used to cost money, are free! Here are some I've played with.

Jing. This is the best one I have used so far. It is a program that you will need to download from their web page, but it is free. It's available for PC and Mac, and can be running in the background until you need it. It does video, audio, screen cast, screen capture and lets you edit the pictures you take. Additionally, it has some great sharing features that let you save the file on your machine, on your free account (comes with the program), ftp, or even embed the code into a blog or web page. You can even share on Flickr. Great tools and really helpful tech support (I ran into a small snag with installing but the staff responded quickly and efficiently).

. This is downloadable software that offers a 30-day free trial (after that it's quite pricey). But, for 30 days you get the fully functional version that lets you do basically all that Jing does more smoothly and integrates with PowerPoint, lets you add audio during recording or after and even has an editing function that lets you fine tune your screen cast. This is great if you want to make a really powerful presentation and you can do it in the 30 day window. It appears to be a PC product only. This blogger says you can get a free older version of Camtasia until January 7th, 2008. So if you like this tool, get it now.

For those of you who are not allowed to add programs to your school computer, there is an online tool alternative to these. is an online, free screen casting tool. It lets you define the area of the screen you'd like recorded, lets you choose to use audio and will let you download the finished file or share it on their website. It's honestly a little murky in terms of the screen clarity, and sometimes the audio skips a bit, but as far as a free way to try out screen casting, this is a great place to start. No need to install software, but you'll want a high speed connection to work with, and you might need to update your Java (the site links to Java's update page to see if you have the right one so it's a free easy fix if you don't). Works with Mac or PC. The nice part about this site though, is that you can look for screen casts others have done in a searchable database (why reinvent the wheel when someone already has the definitive "How to use Screencast-o-matic Screen cast").

So what would a teacher in a classroom use these tools for? They have many implications beyond technology training. For example, imagine a writing teacher recording his/her writing and thought process in a video file to share with students how they plan, draft and edit. Imagine taking students on a tour of a website like Wikipedia and pointing out want makes it a credible source and what to look for when doing research citations. Or making a screen cast or capture of your class or school website for as a tour for parents and community.

Even better yet, why not have students make screen casts to edit each others papers (think aloud peer editing), review websites, teach how to use a program, or voice over in a foreign language. Why not have students make screen casts teaching staff how to use technology tools? There are all kinds of possibilities here when you start sharing what you see with others.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Stratification in School

by Ed Latham

Professional sports have constantly adjusted to ensure that new and existing talent is spread out among all of the teams in the sport. There have been some swings in different sports where one team seems really stacked or one team looks like it has some high school kids playing in the pros. These variances do not stay in place for long because each league runs directly from the money revenues from all of its teams and not just the best one. Another philosophy at work is to keep fan interest in every team by having a few star players on each team to give the fan a reason to watch the product. It is too bad that professional sports can not look to the education system to learn about how to spread things out.

I get to work with many wonderful staff. In every discussion about teacher composition, discussions come up about this personality or that personality. The level of consistency has allowed some to even make up education simulation games that include personalities and attitudes that are present in every system. How is this possible? We have little schools, big schools, ethnically diverse schools, economically advantaged systems, as well as poor systems and yet with all of the variables that differentiate schools from each other we can point to personalties or habits that seem to exist in every staff.

I was recently in a wonderful Math Leadership (AML) meeting in Bangor. The session was centered around the concept of how change happens in school and what strategies are most effective. One new concept for me was the idea that every group of people has 5 types of Adopter Types. When a change is presented, people will adopt that change at different rates.

Innovators will jump right in and play while learning. Leaders will be excited about the ideas but show a bit more restraint and thought before jumping on board. Early Majority types will be keen on the idea, but they must see some level of success in others before they will jump on board. Late Majority people sit back and wait until they "have to" try it out before they start on the path. Then we have our Resisters that feel the change is a total waste of time and not worth their attention.

I knew about these divisions to some extent, but I was shocked to hear about how all 5 parties show up in almost any organization of people when a change is started. This includes business, governments and other parties. This brings to mind many questions. I would love to hear people's response or ideas concerning the following...

1). Is it possible to assemble a staff of Innovators or maybe Innovators and Leaders to make up a school? This staff would be very open to changes and shifts. Is that a good thing? Would there be a constant state of change? Most importantly, over time would this group stratify to form the 5 groups (Innovators, Leaders, Early Majority, Late Majority, Resisters)?

2). Do the Adopter types shift depending on the nature of the Change? It seems logical that we all may be more open to some changes and more resistant to other changes, but how do those thoughts and feelings drive our professional efforts in the field? In our roles do we actively shift our Adopter role depending on the nature of the change at hand?

3). Education has been criticized by many for being particularly slow to change over any number of years. Education seems to always be "behind the curve", "way off balance", or "not on track". Listening to more experienced teachers, they all can point to the cyclic nature of Education trends. Why is it that Businesses can adapt to changes and move on but the perception is that Education is constantly chasing it's tail?

We always plan things in Education, we may even start out on a path, but then things die out and resume to some "norm" only to wait until the wave starts up again. Some have claimed that if the Leviathan that is Education can not become a more flexible and adaptive system, our culture and quality of life will suffer in just a few generations. With 4 teenagers at home, I am already afraid of the signs I see from today's younger generation.

Our kids will be competing on a more global level than any proceeding generation. Data has been collected over the last few decades demonstrated some dramatic educational differences between countries. Do those systems have the same inability to change? If they do, how do they deal with change? Our team, (USA ED System), seems to be loosing something and falling behind in the league. Is it a manager's job to change it? Does the responsibility fall to the coaching staff? How about the players? What role do they have? Do the fans have any part in helping things get better? In sports, the answer to all of these questions is at least a partial yes! Sadly our Educational team continually stratifies into differing factions and the energy out there waxes and wanes as innovations burn out trying to light a fire made up of a wide variety of flammable and inflammable materials.

by Ed Latham


Lots of great resources at the Down East Educational Partnership.

Literacy for ME

Literacy for ME

PDF for Universal Literacy Elements for Deeper and More Powerful Content Learning

Noteshare Web Notebook on Universal Literacy Elements

Jill Spencer's Portaportal on ULE

Jill Spencer's Maine Literacy Portaportal

For Mac users -- NoteShare notebook is available in Jill Spencer’s public folder on iDisk: Finder/Go/iDisk/Other User’s Public Folder (member name: jillspencer)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


My father grew up on a farm and then worked as a welder in the Rumford papermill as an adult, not a job he particularly liked, but one that paid the bills of a household of five children and a wife. His hobby was reading everything he could about the stock market, buying stock, and following the ups and downs in the morning paper.

My mother grew up in a Franco-American home with 8 brothers and sisters where French was the primary language and English the second language. During the Depression, they all lived on her grandparents' farm in order to survive. Due to poverty, she was not able to attend high school. Nevertheless, she was, and is at 86, a voracious reader and life-long learner.

Some of my parents' expectations:

1. "Supper" was a sacrament and we were expected to be there.
2. There's always room for one more at the table.
3. Treat people of all stations of life with equal respect.
4. Do your best.
5. It was never explicitly talked about, but simply "understood" that all their children would become college graduates. And so it became . . .

Jim - B.A. economics, UMO
Bob - B.S. civil engineering, UMO
Sue - B.A. art, Goddard
Mike - B.S. education/social work, UMF
Dave - B.S. business, UMO

How did your parents make a difference in your life?

What is your story?

Aspirations: 8 Conditions

Monday, January 7, 2008

Interactive Whiteboard Workshop

We are investigating ways of making use of interactive whiteboards this afternoon at the Crescent Park School in Bethel. Here's the agenda. We'll be making use of the small, portable variety of Smartboards and the excellent software that comes with them.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Maine National Guard and the Adventure Program

Today I found myself catching up on paperwork (or perhaps a better term would be organizational-work) in my tiny cubicle on the perimeter of the Oxford Hills Middle School library. This is often a great place to be because (1) there is a wealth of AC outlets within easy reach, and (2) as a multi-purpose area, I am often introduced unexpectedly to many special activities that are happening in the school. Today was no exception when seventy-five 7th graders filed in and two national guard instructors. I was about to experience the 2nd day of the Adventure Program that has a history at this school. Students have two classes on decision-making, cooperative learning, and team-building . . . and in the Spring will go to Bog Brook for outward-bound type activities.

Although this Maine program is not without controversy, I was impressed with the focus, which was process skills, and the enthusiasm of the facilitators.

This particular activity today was to have students work as teams to develop an egg-catcher, given a set of materials with which to work. It culminated with a contest to see which worked the best. Students described how they created their "catcher" and the reasoning behind it. Engaged Learning!

Do our schools have something to learn from military training methods?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Taming the Beast

There seems to be a coming-of-age event that people of my generation are increasingly experiencing, if not thoroughly enjoying. I am speaking of the wondrous colonoscopy. I will spare you the specific details, but suffice it to say, should you have airs of self-righteousness or a certain holier-than-thou dignity, it certainly quite effectively pulls you back down to earth. I speak from personal experience over the past 2 days. :)

But on a high note . . . I also finally got my chance to read Jason Ohler's Taming the Beast - Choice & Control in the Electronic Jungle (1999) which I had bought months ago on Amazon. I had frequently visited Ohler's website, so I was no stranger to the questions he has been asking. Both his work and that of Neil Postman play much into my own thinking about the place of information and technology in our schools and culture. My view: Jason Ohler gets it!

Sure would be great to have him as a conference speaker in Maine for a refreshing viewpoint. What do you think?

More Jason Ohler Links

Medical Sites:


Mayo Clinic
Jackson GI Care
Medicine Plus

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

iMovie 8 and Atomic Learning

Okay, I'll admit that I had been putting off learning how to do iMovie 8 after looking at it briefly this fall. I had grown so accustomed to the earlier format which had been quite consistent through the iterations to this point. Now Apple has the audacity to plunk this foreign-looking application in front of me! But you know what . . . it ain't so bad. Since I'll be using iMovie 8 on the MLTI MacBooks to introduce movie-making to Vocational Region 9 - School of Applied Tech next Tuesday, I thought it just might make sense that I know what I'm doing before I do the workshop . . . so in comes Atomic Learning to the rescue!

Atomic learning is the only paid subscription I have on the web and well worth the $75 or so to renew each year. Now if I were a young whipper-snapper (what so many people insist on calling digital natives), I might just figure it out on the fly, but I'm afraid I feel a great deal more comfort in having this powerful set of video tutorials in my trunk of resources. So after shoveling out at my small rustic home in Western Maine this morning, I'm spending the afternoon with the convenient, high-quality, just-in-time learning that Atomic Learning provides. I'll view the instruction, play with the application a bit, and then create a project that will make me feel comfortable that I can teach it to others, knowing that I can always review the tutorials anytime that I missed something the first time.

This all makes me wonder why there is any need for programs/applications to be taught locally or at regional or state-wide workshops unless there is also a connection made with utilization and application to needs and issues. I, of course, do realize that we all have different learning styles and the power of learning something with others in the same room can be very motivating and satisfying. Building community is important. Working with others to come up with solutions to real problems is the essence . . . but there is a place for independent life-long learning as well, and increasingly, quality online resources are out there to serve that need.

Where do you suppose it is all leading? What will education look like in 20 years? Any predictions? Hopes?

Apple iLife iMovie 8 Tutorials

Info about iMovie Capabilities at GeeThree
Unlocking iMovie 8 Blog
Andy Dickinson iMovie 8 Review
MacWorld iMovie 8 Review
Download iMovie HD 6.0.3
Pogue: Apple Takes a Step Back with iMovie '08

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Do You Remember These?

Readers who are old-timers might connect with some of the images expressed in this Statler Brothers song. Or here is another version from YouTube . . .

This leads me to these questions:

Are we sharing the stories of our cultural past with our children? Are connections being made from one generation to the next in a meaningful manner? Does it matter?

Oral History Interview Resources

Timeline Resources

Resources for Twentieth Century Music, History and Culture


Keith Kelley's "Half the Man"

Digital Storytelling Resources

Maine Memory Network

Windows on Maine

Northeast Historic Film