Monday, March 31, 2008
Sunday, March 30, 2008
I often try out new technologies, as most of you do as well and sometimes they go a little wacky. This evening I tried out a broadcasting tool called Kyte.tv This tool is a lot like other online tools like ustream, operator11, or talkshoe. It lets you add video, slides, audio, titles, text, polls, and links to your broadcast and even has a live chat feature. The nice part about it was that it integrated with many sites like Blogger and Facebook to publish in multiple places at once or even broadcast it live to those services simultaneously. Well, being the brave technology explorer that I fancy myself to be, I tried posting it to my personal blog as a test. Kyte.tv said it worked but I couldn't see it on my blog anywhere.
That's when it hit me... I posted to Learning in Maine's blog (which is actually first in my Blogger Dashboard). And sure enough, there was me on my webcam with my "test episode". For any of you who have an intrepid RSS reader, you may have gotten my ugly mug in your feed, but at least you have these links as my penance : )
When I was a child, I remember having flying dreams . . . ahhhh, such freedom! I either don't have them now, or simply just don't remember them when I crawl out of bed in the morning. Of course I could go to a virtual world such as Second Life to fly, but you know, it just ain't the same as a good old-fashioned dream . . . or is it?"There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: One is roots, the other is wings."
~ Hodding Carter
Carl Jung's idea was that in a flying dream we are expressing our desire to break free of restrictions and limitations. There are many other interpretations out there, but we do know that these flying dreams have been with us throughout history.
The Greek myth, Daedulus and Icarus, has a tragic ending in that Icarus dies from flying too close to the sun. The message seems to be that there is a danger in going too far from our roots.
Are we giving our kids adequate roots?
Are we giving our kids wings?
Are virtual worlds such as Skoolaborate an adequate substitute for strong flesh & blood families and communities?
How do social networking sites such as Webkins, Miss Bimbo, and others fit into all this?
What are our roles as parents, teachers, and community members in this new reality?
Final Question: Do kids still have flying dreams? Do kids have life dreams?
"If I had two wishes, I know what they would be
I'd wish for Roots to cling to, and Wings to set me free;
Roots of inner values, like rings within a tree, and Wings of independence to seek my destiny.
Roots to hold forever to keep me safe and strong,
To let me know you love me, when I've done something wrong;
To show me by example, and help me learn to choose,
To take those actions every day to win instead of lose.
Just be there when I need you, to tell me it's all right,
To face my fear of falling when I test my wings in flight;
Don't make my life too easy, it's better if I try,
And fail and get back up myself, so I can learn to fly.
If I had two wishes, and two were all I had,
And they could just be granted, by my Mom and Dad;
I wouldn't ask for money or any store-bought things,
The greatest gifts I'd ask for are simply Roots and Wings."
~ Denis Waitley
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Yet another great podcast from Jeff n' Dan. Find Episode 13 here.
Companion WDL blog
Direct Link to Episode 13
Jeff Bailey's Maine Ideas in Education
The Wicked Good Guide to Mainah English
Friday, March 28, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
You are invited to participate in this inaugural event marking the commencement of the Library of Congress' Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) national educational outreach program. As the Eastern Regional TPS partner, Waynesburg University is kicking off this expansion of the program with a conference to discuss opportunities for you to engage fellow educators to incorporate the Library's vast resources across the curriculum. We sincerely hope you can attend.
Library of Congress Online: Teaching with Primary Sources 2008 Eastern Regional Conference
- May 21 and 22, 2008
- Free conference!
- Grant opportunities up to $15,000
- Travel stipend available upon application approval
- Waynesburg University (60 miles south of Pittsburgh, PA)
Learn about grant opportunities to integrate primary sources into professional development, educational outreach programs and school district curricula.
Meet Library of Congress educational outreach leaders.
Benefit from nationally-known education experts like Mary McFarland.
Apply today to join us for this exciting opportunity!
“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade and lemon pie, ... That may sound trite, yet what I mean is that when something happens that takes you down a different road than you had planned, you need to take control of the situation and turn it into something positive. What may look like a catastrophe can end up being a wonderful opportunity.”The March 2008 edition of the Maine Townsman has an article title "Small Towns Respond to Population Decline" which looks into what is happening, what the ramifications are, and what changes are being looked at to adapt to population decline in many small Maine towns.~ Anne White
We often hear of the virtues of growth. If the rules of supply and demand apply, might there ultimately be advantages in staying small?
Photo Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chromecrayon/2362595325/
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Anyone experience this?
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/desvarenne_d/2172275367/
Monday, March 24, 2008
Way back, almost a decade ago, I had the opportunity to attend a Mac Expo and it was great fun. Of particular interest at the Expo was a very early version of iMovie. They sat us down and showed us how to make a movie by simply clicking and dragging with none of that nasty time stop or frame rate issues other programs at the time may have had. It was so much fun and it seemed young and old alike could be cranking out their own home movies with ease.
I have heard all the banter about how the recent version of iMovie is less user friendly than the version that was on the image last year. Using my MacBook and some 6th grade students I thought I would take it for a ride to find out how easy/hard it could be. It did take us some time as the interface is not as easy as some other programs. In the end we had a decent public service announcement ready to go to the local channel except that the MacBook does not have a DVD burner installed? I frantically searched help files, played with different export settings, and even tried some meditation on top of a freezing hill in the middle of a snow storm ... nothing helped me figure out how to share with the world this production created so simply.
During the production, the students and I ran into frequent compatibility issues with sound and graphic files. iMovie would take jpg files but not gif. It would take some audio files but not others. To finally end the process without the ability to crank out a DVD with the MLTI shipped computers was very frustrating. Why is iDVD on there if you can't use it without subscribing to a service or buying new hardware? Maybe I just need someone more experienced to share with me how I messed up and what I might do differently in the future.
In the meantime, I copied all the pictures and audio files from our project and brought them over to my PC. Within an hour I had the entire production recreated and was even able to use the graphic and sounds we were not able to use in iMovie. I suppose it is always easier to go with what you know, but I ask those more experienced than I...."Given the high school teacher's MLTI Macbooks, how do teachers take a movie made in iMovie, mash it through iDVD somehow to get the movie to the public without having to subscribe to some pay service or buy new hardware?" I am anxious to learn new things so please share what you know. In the meantime, I will go share our finished DVD with the kids.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Anyhow, this is the time of year that we begin to start seedlings, the time of year that we look to a resurrection of life and hope for the future.
In this frame of mind, let me alert you to the good people at ACTEM who have resurrected the impressive work of SEED by posting the SEED packets at their site.
For more information on SEED, contact Jenifer Van Deusen, Former Chief Horticulturist
Join the Seedlings Social Network
Gardening at LIM Resources Wiki
Troy Howard Middle School Garden Project (Belfast, Maine)
What will you be planting this Spring?
Photo Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/33607658@N00/530024656/
Friday, March 21, 2008
Teaching is a very personal thing. We all approach life differently. Back in 1960, when I was in 7th grade in the Rumford community, my teacher was Peter Mckenna, and let me tell you, he made more of a difference in my life than any test or assessment I ever took. He knew what engagement was all about and could even make diagramming sentences pure joy. Mr. McKenna read Edgar Allen Poe stories and Jack
London and Kafka's Metamorphosis, having us begging for more. We made litmus paper out of math paper and canned blueberry juice for the red strips and dipped it into the restroom liquid soap to make the blue strips. We did goofy skits and pondered philosophical questions and operated on fractions, all artfully choreographed by this teacher. Simple enough stuff, but he made it all magical. Do you believe in Magic? ;) I'm sure we all can think back to a teacher, or perhaps many, who connected with us and made learning so exciting that we were motivated to investigate even more without any thought of extrinsic rewards. Any stories?
At the same time, a teacher needs to be a pragmatist to survive. There is a lot on the plate and compromise and ingenuity are necessary if the institution is to work. It certainly is reasonable for someone with this workload to become a bit surly when being told how to do his job when he is in the middle of running helter-skelter spinning the plates.
In my 32 years as an elementary classroom teacher, I wasn't always successful in making these connections with students, but I did have the freedom to try . . . and on occasion hit the mark. At the risk of being labeled a reactionary, YES, I do want teachers to continue to have that prerogative. If we lose respect for that, then I worry for the future of public education. Top-down edicts, poorly thought out and implemented by people who are not closely connected to the local community and the classroom, is not the answer.
Which K-12 teacher(s) made a big difference in your life ?
Check out a post on Dangerously Irrelevant titled "Creativity Fatigue: Is it really possible to stop learning?"
BTW, if you want to know what life is like growing up in a Maine papermill town, check out Monica Wood's Ernie's Ark. :)
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Now More Than Ever, Students Should 'Get' Economics
With the housing crisis, the stockmarket tanking (well, except the last two days), oil prices rising, many families (and their kids) have money on the brain. Teachers can either ignore this or take the opportunity to empower young people to learn more about our current economic situation. (Gee, guess what I think?) If you think about it, I bet if more of us had more substantial money management education, our current recession wouldn't be so bad.
With the advent of the internet, it is much easier to do simulations of the stock market, something I looked forward to doing in school but never got to. There are programs like this one (it's apparently free and you can do it as an individual or with your class). Stocks are a good illustration of where it can go wrong on a smaller scale; it's a little easier to understand what happened to Bear Stearns after one of the student's stocks has bit the dust.
Of course, there are government resources that our tax money pays for so might as well use them, like the National Council On Economic Education and they've got links for days of resources you can use in your classroom. Finding activities, games, and simulations to make the economy and money fun can make this period of economic uncertainty a learning opportunity rather than a wild ride we just all happen to be on. I hope some of you are up to this challenge!
Nicole will post "Teaching Tech" (formerly Tech Tuesday) about internet resources for your classroom whenever she thinks of it, which is incidentally never on a Tuesday. She doesn't teach anymore but works at a newspaper and maintains her own personal finance blog: http://www.breakingeven.typepad.com.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Eager Eyes - A Blog about Visualization
Berkley Visualization Gallery
TED Talks - Hans Rosling
See earlier post called Making Sense of Data - Visualization
"Generalists, people with moderately strong attachments to many ideas, should be hard to interrupt, and once interrupted, should have weaker, shorter negative negative reactions since they have alternative paths to realize their plans. Specialists, people with stronger attachments to fewer ideas, should be easier to interrupt, and once interrupted, should have stronger,more sustained negative reactions because they have fewer alternative pathways to realize their plans. Generalists should be the the upbeat, positive people in the profession while specialists should be their grouchy, negative counterparts."
~ Karl Weick
Are we becoming too specialized?
Western Maine teachers, Jeff & Dan, continue their refreshingly honest and down-to-earth series of podcasts. Far too often education talk is stilted and abstract. Consider this weekly Maine show to be an antidote to high-sounding phrases and acronyms, to wishful thinking and elaborate schemes. Jeff & Dan give authentic voice to a love for teaching. They demonstrate curiosity and adventurous spirits while at the same time recognizing the pragmatism that is needed in working in classrooms and schools.
Wicked Decent Learning Podcasts
Wicked Decent Learning Blog
Maine Ideas in Education
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
I regularly check out Jim Moulton's articles on Edutopia's Spiral Notebook. Recently he posted the following: The Classroom Web Page: A Must-Have in 2008.
In it Jim argues that having a classroom web presence is important. He gives 5 reasons . . . all good points. He also gives some good places to start, including Portaportal and Google Pages.
Jim recognizes that teachers are very busy people, so that finding a workable tool for developing this web presence is important. Elaborate tools such as Studywiz and Moodle offer many options . . . and in the hands of the right person can be just the ticket . . . but I will still argue that we have to look at ease-of-use.
There really is no longer a need to use powerful, but expensive, web editors such as Dreamweaver to meet the needs of the classroom. If this kind of tool is needed, free Kompozer will suffice. But why bother?
Beyond using the great tools Jim suggested, I would also suggest using the many other possibilities, such as blogs, wikis, google apps, and other online learning environments. With a bit of searching in this very large toolbox available to us now, we can customize our presence according to our own needs. The beauty in making blogs and/or wikis the classroom vehicle is that the teacher has the freedom to decide the level of read/write collaboration needed.
My three favorite classroom web presence tools are Blogger, Wikispaces & Portaportal. I know a math teacher in the Telstar School District who swears by NiceNet. Others use some of the bookmarking sites here.
What are your favorites? Thoughts?
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Tonight's Essential Question: How can audio tools be used in classrooms?
Three common tools for creating audio projects will be introduced: GarageBand, Audacity, and Sound Studio.
Experience Western Maine
Room 208 podcasts
Tech Curve Podcasts
How to Podcast
Demo at Podomatic
Open Source Audio at Internet Archive
Pandora - Music Genome Project
Oral History Interview Resources
Number Mind Reader
This way to Wicked Decent Learning - Episode 10 - Group-ease -->>
I've taken to doing laundry while listening to WDL. That's right after Prairie Home Companion and just before Car Talk on Sunday afternoon.
How are you multitasking while listening to Jeff & Dan's weekly program on education in Maine?
Cooperative Learning at LIM Resources Wiki (Feel free to join in order to edit by adding, deleting, modifying, etc.)
Saturday, March 8, 2008
From my favorite news source, The Onion:
UNIONTOWN, PA—Most educators view multiple-choice exams as an opportunity to couch the correct answer amidst three or four other plausible alternatives. Not so for Uniontown High School teacher Tom Campbell. Campbell, 47, who has taught freshman history at the school for the past 11 years, uses the popular test format not only to instruct but also to delight his students with his quirky sense of humor.
"What was the Great Awakening?" a question from one of Campbell's most recent tests reads. "(a) Coffee and a bagel, (b) The name given to FDR's evening radio addresses, (c) 'C'mon, Mom! Let me sleep five more minutes!' or (d) A dramatic religious revival in Anglo-American history."
"The answer is D," said Campbell, holding back a wry smile. "Giving them the option of 'Coffee and a bagel.' Get it?"
Read the entire "article" here...
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Old-Fashioned Play Building Serious Skills, Alix Spiegel, NPR, 2/21/08
Taking Play Seriously, New York Times, 2/17/2008
Alliance for Childhood
Tech Tonic: Towards a New Literacy of Technology
Fool's Gold: A Critical Look at Computers in Childhood
The Playground and the Conflict Resolution
Children - Play and Learning
"It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them."
~ Leo F. Buscaglia
Monday, March 3, 2008
Hi Ya'll from St. Louis!
Becky, Anne and I are at the eMINTS Winter Conference. Here's some notes from a workshop I went to called "Digital Photography in the Classroom
Rod Kissinger, a retired middle school social studies teacher, talked to us about taking better digital pictures. The handouts for the session are part of a webquest written for 4th grade students, but can be altered for higher levels.
Depth of field is one way to blur the background, if you can not find the background that you want. The bigger the fstop, the higher the depth of field. “Higher is Deeper” The sport setting has a faster shutter speed, so it has a narrower depth of field and will blur the background.
Use a flash outdoors, and know the range of your flash. Cloudy days are often the best days for pictures because it doesn't wash out the colors. Red eye reduction can be a setting on your camera or if you have the group look at a light and then look back to you just before you take the picture. For painting out the red eye, choose a brush with a feathered image so that it will blend in, and then use the smudge tool to smudge what you just painted in with the brush.
Move in close since studies show that people look at the eyes of a subject first. Use the optical zoom, since the digital zoom is a software based zoom. Sneaker zoom, walking closer to the subject, is another option. :)
Move the image from the middle of your frame. The rule of thirds describes where items in the photography should be placed. When taking a picture of a moving image, give the object someplace to move into. When you take a moving image, follow the subject with your camera and continue to move the camera after you finish...otherwise you will stop and the object will blur. Remember that you can hold the shutter down half way to lock the focus, then you can move the camera organize the shot and then take the picture. In the case of the runner, lock the focus on the ground where the runner is going to be when you take the picture...remember to keep the camera moving on the runner as he/she goes by, and click the shutter the rest of the way when he/she reaches the point that you locked the focus on.
Set up glasses every two feet and take a picture with your flash on. You will be able to see the reflection of the flash out to the range of your flash.
Mornings and evenings are best times to take pictures outside. The light is gentle.
Take vertical pictures. Some cameras will automatically flip them for you.
Be a good picture director, don't be afraid to put kids in poses. Make the photograph interesting. Lay on the floor and have the kids huddle over you or have them lay on the floor and take a picture down on them.
Get a tripod. A move of 1/16th of an inch at the camera turns into a much larger move where the subject is located. Brand name of gorilla...tripod that you can bend the legs.
Online purchasing of digital equipment:
bandkphoto.com Observe the sabbath so no purchasing during that time
Online purchasing of pictures:
Activity: Save Fred
Culture Wars: Ideology and Education
eMINTS Constructivism Resources
Six Principles of Constructivism
Constructivism in the Technology Classroom
Instructivism vs. Constructivism at Learning in Maine
Constructivism, Instructivism, and Related Sites
Clipart Links at LIM Resources Wiki
Photo Resources at Resources for Maine Teachers
Vector vs. Bitmap
Vector vs. Bitmap - An Introductory Guide
Appleworks Drawing vs. Painting
Inkscape vs. Gimp (Open-source Applications), Seashore
Photoshop vs Illustrator
OS X Pages
Saturday, March 1, 2008
"Ultimately, your leadership in a culture of change will be judged effective or ineffective not by who you are as a leader but by what leadership you produce in others.Catalyst: Episode 9 Podcast on Change at Wicked Decent Learning Blog
~Michael Fullan, Leadership in a Culture of Change
21st Century Collaborative
Capacity Building and Michael Fullan