Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gustav and the Genius of Wikipedia

The argument against Wikipedia by many is that it is simply not authoritative, that one just doesn't know how accurate it is, that the credentials of the editors are questionable. And yet, IMHO, the genius of Wikipedia comes through especially during events such as Katrina and Gustav.

Questions: For information on what is happening and has happened regarding Hurricane Gustav, where is your most reliable and up-to-date source? Commercial news organizations, Encyclopedia Britannica, or Wikipedia? Or is it somewhere else?

Who do you trust? Do you trust CNN, Fox News, or local news for example, more than Wikipedia in getting non-hyped, reliable and fair news coverage?
ATTENTION: Residents of areas affected by Hurricane Gustav are advised to seek advice and information from local authorities through television and radio. Information on Wikipedia may not be current or applicable to your area. Do not decide whether to leave your house, shelter, or vehicle based on Wikipedia information.
~ Disclaimer at top of Wikipedia Hurricane Gustav article

Saturday, August 30, 2008

"Crossroads" and the Circle of Life

"Imitation is the highest form of flattery."
It is difficult to believe that YouTube started only about three years ago according to the WayBackMachine documentation/history. See here and here. I'm not sure we school people have come to terms with the revolutionary nature of this event. Now there is a proliferation of similar sites and the convergence of television and the internet seems to be very close. Sure there is plenty of distasteful stuff out there, but the power of this democratization of culture through this medium awes me. People who never have had a chance to strut their stuff now have a forum and, increasingly, in my humble opinion, we're seeing the power of it all.

I do understand that many schools block video sites, and I do understand their concern for protecting the young. I'm just not sure we are doing them a favor by failing to model and inculcate in them the ethics/etiquette involved in working in any forum. Are we teaching them about civility and how to think critically by simply ignoring and/or denying this powerful medium which just about anyone can access at home or, I imagine, most public libraries?

My nephew, Josh , a third year engineering student at UMO, posted a "cover" yesterday of a group he was singing and playing with at the Black Mountain Ski Area in Rumford. The song was "Crossroads" which was made popular by Cream and Eric Clapton back in the 60's. At least that is where I knew it from. However, Josh had connected with the tune with someone closer to his generation - John Mayer - who he can't seem to get enough of. And it turns out that it was actually written by Robert Johnson, a hero of Clapton. My point is that YouTube has the power to make all these connections at a gut level. The circle of life.

BTW, I subscribe to Josh's videos, so I instantly know when he has posted a new one. I can then give him feedback and encouragement. He loves it. Yes, the circle of life.

Josh and Band's Rendition:

Mayer and Clapton

Robert Johnson

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Amazing Simplicity of Google Sites

I've used Google Page Creator for about a year now, and despite a few minor bugs, I was very happy with it. It happens that it is being phased out, and Google Sites is its replacement. Sites seems to be of the wiki persuasion and is ultra-easy to use and offers lots of possibilities for collaboration. Here is my new "Online Office" site. Slick.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Neil Postman Revisited

"You catch more flies with honey than vinegar."
Photo Credit

In the foreward to his book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman compares George Orwell's 1984 vision of the world with that of Aldous Huxley in Brave New World:

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions". In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

~ Neil Postman

What do you think? Will what we love ruin us? Will too much information reduce us to passivity and egoism? What are the implications?

See earlier post

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

When Words Get in the Way

jargon aphasia n. A form of fluent aphasia characterized by a copious flow of unintelligible speech. Jargon-aphasic speech may be subdivided into semantic jargon, in which ordinary words are strung together to form unintelligible utterances.

~ A Dictionary of Psychology

Dilbert: Mission Statement Generator

Education Jargon Generator

Hiding Behind Education Jargon


Education Jargon Information

Silos, Echo Chambers, and Human Nature

There are two metaphors in currency out there relatively recently that I think we have to seriously consider: silos and echo chambers. As our communities across time and space have become larger, we are increasingly hearing only one side of the argument or point-of-view. This, of course, has some advantages in that it simplifies our lives and allows us to become more proficient in our little piece of the world than once was possible. Specialization has done wonders in many ways in our society and personal lives.

On the other hand, how easy it then becomes to demonize the Other. How easy it is to miss the big picture. How easy it is to become self-righteous and ego-centered. It is a human problem, no matter who we are or what we do.

In many ways, we need to limit our vision in order to get some work done, but at some point, in so doing, we limit the possibilities of true collaboration and compromise. At some point we are blinded by our narrow-mindedness.

Parochialism used to be thought of as something that happened in small communities or insular places. Now perhaps it is instead based on our position, interest and point of view, with place being an increasingly minor contributor.

What do you think? Do you see more echo chambers and silos now than prior to the rise of digital technology? Is there any need for beginning to re-emphasize the whole . . . the universal?

Photo Credit

New Smartboards at York

I spent an enjoyable morning at York Middle School yesterday, sharing and learning about the new Smartboards with version 10 software that have been purchased for many teachers in the system who developed proposals that involved enthusiasm and willingness to use them in transformational ways.

In the photo, Eric Lawson, a top-notch technology integrator in the system, enthusiastically demonstrates many of the new functions of the 10 software. Gregg Martin, Director of Information Technology Services, lead the workshop, emphasizing that the vision is ultimately transformation in teaching methods and offering ongoing support to his teachers. There is a conference in their FirstClass system to encourage collaboration among the users. I also had to put in a plug for sharing state-wide through the Smartboard page on LIM resources.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Laptops for Infants

I certainly know the argument for waiting for children to have access to the digital world as stated in the Alliance for Children Report, "Computers and Children", and "Fool's Gold - A Critical Look at Computers in Childhood."

If I did not know that my 9 month old grandson, Ilan, had a home where rich experiences with attentive parents was commonplace, then I might not have done what I did. Ilan and my daughter, Jessica, are from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, visiting for a few days. Jess is a physician in the Chapel Hill area and my son-in-law, Sal, is a new assistant dean for student affairs at the University of North Carolina. Ilan is getting to the age where he likes to bang on the keys of his dad's new laptop. So my thought was, why not have an older computer that is made just for that purpose, one that you wouldn't be worried so much if it got damaged . . . so I cleaned off one of the g3 iBooks I had purchase a couple of years ago, added free AlphaBaby, TuxPaint, and an icon with a link to Starfall. At this point, I suspected that AlphaBaby would be of interest, providing visual and audio feedback to whacking the keyboard. And though I caught Ilan just before he was ready for a nap, we weren't disappointed in his enthusiasm.

What other good baby software is out there?

But the real question is this:

Was I a bad grampa for introducing this device so early in baby Ilan's life? What do you think?

Another Question:

What do we lose by moving learning to machines?

See earlier post: Read Aloud and Baby Einstein

Friday, August 22, 2008

Resources for Elections

In an earlier post, I shared a Commoncraft video on Presidential Elections. Today I discovered a great compilation of links on elections that Barbara Greenstone has put together on Portaportal called "vote4me". (I finally "get" Twitter! ;)

Check out also Oxford Hills teacher Richard Byrne's post on the Living Room Candidate. As always, Richard gives a great review of this tool.

Essential Question: How do we inform and engage our students in a non-partisan manner in the election process?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mac Swiss Army Knife

I've always been a fan of the MacGyver series and the Red Green Show. Although different in many regards, in each, solutions are created using the simplest of materials. Enter the Mac. There are three simple, straightforward functions of the Mac computer that I think everyone should know. With these "household" items many problems can be easily solved. They are part of the Mac "Swiss Army Knife."

My list: PDF creation, Stickies & Preview. Feel free to add your own.

1. Everyone should know that PDFs can be created of almost anything on a Mac using this method.

2. Everyone should know the incredible possibilities and deceptive power of the onboard sticky note feature. Don't just casually look 'em over, but do check the help menu for these gems to see the handy-dandy functionality of Stickies.

3. Everyone should know the handy annotation features as well as many other functions of Preview.

What else?

Parental Training in School is missing something important

by Ed Latham

Schools vary quite a bit concerning programs that help educate our youth about parenting. I have seen many schools that offer simulations (the sugar babys, actual life like dolls with computer chips and more). All of these experiences help students to see some of the issues of becoming a parent, but I feel there is something missing.

Where are we educating our children about the potential pitfalls of jumping into permanent relationships for convenience, desperation, and many of the other situations that lead to unstable relationships. Everyone knows the statistics about how many marriages end up in divorce and how that rate seems to be rising every year. Many kids can spout out statistics about unwanted pregnancies or early teen moms and dads. How many can share what happens to kids and parents during some of the crazy confrontations that divorce issues may bring up?

Personally, I have been on both ends of the divorced kid experience. I have heard from divorced parents all sorts of stories that make great soap operas, but the effect of the kids in these situations changes the child's life forever. School is all about preparing students for real life and yet I see a void when it comes to educational forums for students to learn about the impacts of getting married, having kids then divorcing. I know there are students out there living the experience and those kids are going through some horrible situations every day. Even their peers may get glimpses. Are there programs out there that share different stories that help illustrate how things go wrong, why they go wrong, and how our adult decisions affect children in the long term?

In the past talking about sex was tabo in schools. With teen pregnancy running rampent many systems have deemed it necessary for some sort of sex ed to be intoduced. Teen pregnancy has show some declines based on those efforts. We now face increasing numbers of divorces and poor relationships based on fundamentally instable reasons. I contend we need some educaiton programs to help educate students about poor relationships and how future children are impacted by the adults in these poor relationships. The hope is that showing students the complications that often exist, the student would look at their own relationships and think more of the long term implications. Of course with the instant gratification in our society and the natural shortsightedness of teens, it maybe an effort of futility. Maybe it might help some young teens think twice about jumping into relationships that may lead to very difficult lives for their future children.

Do schools have any power to affect social change? I feel we do, but it requires some tough decisions and often some moves that are uncomfortable. Are we making any of those moves out there? What does it look like? Is it working?

York Smartboard Training

I'll be assisting Gregg Martin of the York School Department in his Smartboard Training Workshop on Monday. For me, that means coming up-to-speed this weekend on the new version 10 software. Fortunately there are many resources out there to help.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Today I saw for the first time the iWalkthrough progam developed by the Great Schools Partnership of the Mitchell Institute and heard about its utilization by Mt. Abrams and Mt. Valley.

Print vs Digital: Is the discussion getting nasty?

by Ed Latham

I have been talking with a few school administrators and librarians lately and have been hearing more and more discussion about digital media vs print. There are two sides to this issue but the push for more digital media in schools seems to be adding some more teeth to the argument.

Library media specialists and others have always contended that nothing will ever replace the feel of a book or the experience of reading newsprint. The tactile and visual experiences can not be duplicated and to remove those experiences from society would be killing a sacred cow. The art of print has mutated and matured much in the last 200 years and the fear is that this art form could quickly die out in less than 10 years.

On the other end of the spectrum there are arguments that more, reliable, news sources can be reached on the Internet, digital media is more accessible to those with Internet access, digital media remains accessible for longer periods of time with less resources needed, and lately the cost has entered into the equation. Almost all newspapers allow for free subscriptions to digital copies of their papers. If there is a charge, school systems usually have a very paltry amount needed compared to the cost of all of their students being able to simultaneously access an article. Text book costs to school systems continue to rise on par with increased insurance costs to employees. Unlike the inflation in insurance, the textbook financial drain is being entirely removed in some schools by the usage of online text books or university training resources that are freely available in almost any subject and language on the Internet.

The discussions concerning the pros and cons have almost become threatening in the sense that budget people are now starting to say, "We have to cut x, that can be from this source or that source or this other source. Oh yea, we could also cut textbooks and print out and none of those sources would be impacted" Wow! What a choice that now has to be made. Communities will have some tough discussions about whether having new text books and 3-5 newspaper subscriptions is of the same value as, say a teacher's position or an entire "extra" extension course or program.

I feel very much on both sides of this argument. I have learned to read and enjoy books on my little pda and can easily enjoy reading on the Internet for hours. Even with my enjoyment of digital media I can acknowledge that reading a book is a different experience. I am not sure I can say one is better than the other, but I can say they are different. With the financial arguments or "threats" starting to become more prevelant, I find that I agree with the logic behind the switch over to digital media access, especially here in Maine where so many students have equal access to computers. Tie in the need to be able to process data from so many sources and I could make the argument that print may actually hold some people back from exploring other resources because the "instant access" of the Web is not there when skimming a book or periodical.

How about you? What are your thoughts one way or the other? If your school came up to you and said, "Which is worse, loosing that feel of the tactile book or loosing staff members?" what would you say? Is it even possible for the leviathan that is educational change can even adapt to such a concept of digital reading at the same rate that budgetary concerns would like to push things?

So many questions, I am hoping there are people out there talking in their commuities or here on line. I have remained ignorant of online discussions, but at a local level there seems to be tension building. How does it look in your neighborhood?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"Loading In"

Direct Link to Episode 32
Wicked Decent Learning Blog

Academy for Powerful Literacy Learning

Today and tomorrow I'm part of a wonderful group of educators from Mt. Abrams and Mt. Valley School Districts at the Granary in Farmington. This is an opportunity for leaders in these districts to look at data, culture, and strategies in order to enhance learning in their respective schools. This time is being sponsored by the Western Maine Educational Collaborative under the leadership of Mona Baker. Gloria Jenkins and Matt Gilbert gave a review of their experience at Mt. Valley High School. George Tucker of DOE gave an overview of the CIPS structure and strategies. We then listed issues of leadership and culture that came to mind and are sorting them in an activity called affinity.

This afternoon Darlene and I reviewed a strategy for summarization and sharing some straightforward digital methods of using the same strategy. Sometimes the simplest of tools end up being the most powerful. We looked at sticky notes, preview, and the ability of the Mac to turn just about anything into a pdf, and then practiced using these in the summarization strategy.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Upcoming Conferences

Below find some upcoming conferences in Maine and elsewhere. This is a collaborative list created by many. Can you help to refine it? To add to or adjust the ever-changing wiki list, go here or add to the comments for this post.

Sept 12, 13, 14th Haystack 2008 Fall Conference, Maine Art Education Association

Sept 25, 26, 27th - National Open Source and Education Conference - Open Minds

Oct. 3-5 - New England Environmental Education Alliance Conference, Hancock, NH

Oct. 6 - Maine Digital Government Summit, August Civic Center

Oct. 10, 2008 Maine Science Teachers Association Conference at Gardiner High School,

Oct. 16-17, 2008 ACTEM MaineEducation2008, 21st Annual Technology Conference, "The Way Learning Should Be" Augusta Civic Center, August, Maine

Oct. 16-17, 2008 MAEA Conference 2008: Suzanne Rojas is the 2008 Conference Chair and has a great staff supporting her. Conference dates are Oct. 16-17 at the Grand Summit Hotel at Sunday River in Bethel. There will be a Pre-Conference on College Transitions and possibly another topic.

October 23 and Friday October 24, 2008.Maine Libraries Conference
The Maine Libraries Conference 2008 will be held at the Grand Summit Resort Hotel at Sunday River in Bethel, Maine.

October 23 - 24, 2008, MAMLE (Maine Association for Middle Level Education) Annual Conference, Sugarloaf, USA

Nov. 10, 2008 at Augusta Civic Center, Maine Council for Social Studies Annual Conference

December 2-4, 2008 Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference, Nashua, NH,

Jan. 23-25 Educon 2.1, Philadelphia

April 3, 2009, Learning Disabilities Association of Maine's 2009 Annual Conference will be held in collaboration with Maine Transition Network/Committee on Transition (MTN/COT). TRANSITIONING to the POST-SECONDARY WORLD: LIFE AFTER HIGH SCHOOL, Grandeur Sun Banquet & Conference - Waterville, ME,

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Meroby 5th Grade Team

Lisa Belanger, Jessica Allen, and Greig Parr from the Meroby Elementary School added classroom websites into their bag of teaching tools during the collaboration session today. Jessica shared the skills she had learned at the Rapid Web Designer Workshop on Monday.

Jessica Allen's 5th Grade
Lisa Belanger's Class

With enthusiasm, they mapped out the coming school year in order to coordinate their efforts. I love to see this type of collaboration!

We also found a great online tool for creating CD covers for a back-to-school project. We will be testing it further when we have access to a printer.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Laws Limiting Online Teacher/Student Interactions

by Deborah White

I just read this article by Mallory Simon for CNN. She reports that even though many teachers experience success in reaching students via online tools, some places are outlawing online teacher/student interactions or limiting them to the school-sponsored web-page. Missouri is currently considering such a law. Proponents of the laws say that it protects children from predators who happen to be teachers. Critics say those kinds of laws limit the tools educators have to reach ALL students and that laws won't stop predators of any profession from attempting to manipulate children.

I think that laws/policies that limit teachers using tech tools to interact with students are short-sighted. They don't facilitate best practices nor do they allow teachers to exercise professional judgement.

What do you think?

Diving In

There is an excellent review by Sarah Sutter on EduEyeView on her experiences of being thrown into a constructivist environment.

CMK08 Start Swimming: Constructivist Lego/Logo PD

River Valley Bloggers

Not the River Valley Cloggers

the glass is pretty full
There's Always Someone Cooler than You
Beth's Story
SJ's Beat
Life's Lessons

"Take Note"

Direct Link to Episode 31
Wicked Decent Learning Blog

Mary Gamble and Jeff Bailey Team Up . . .

. . . to create an integration of student-created podcasts with the Sagebrush InfoCentre Library Catalog. Check this out with Breathing Underwater. In the search field that pops up, write "breathing underwater" to find that book. Note the included podcast with the library records. Give it a try!

The beauty of this is that it makes some very important connections school-wide and gives some ownership to the podcasters in being part of a team in improving the library's digital presence.

Keep it up, Amazing Duo!

Western Maine Collaborations Continue . . .

Collaborative Projects in the River Valley

After two days of relatively formal workshops looking at tools that can be integrated into classroom use, today and tomorrow is being devoted to teacher-initiated collaborative projects in the River Valley (Mt. Valley and Dirigo SADs . . . soon likely to become a single SAU). My job is to "roam" and be available to offer help when questions or needs arise. Quite relaxed. I'm learning from everyone around me.

In terms of creating web pages, Dreamweaver was the tool of choice until this year, but now FirstClass RWD, iWeb, blogs, wikis and podcasting have become the tools of choice for creating a web presence. This pleases me a great deal because these tools offer a small learning curve to get started and don't require as many administrative hoops to jump through in order to be used by busy teachers. Tools should not be so complex and/or clunky as to get in the way of learning and real-world utility.

It is a delight to watch teacher Andrea York of the new Dirigo Elementary School work with other teachers in her building develop web pages using iWeb. She is young, enthusiastic, full-of-energy, knowledgeable, and has a knack for working with others. Nick Waugh, a legend in the River Valley as the answer man in integrating technology, is available for any assistance that might be needed. The link to Andrea's pages that are just two days old is here. Other teachers in her school are developing their own classroom sites today.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Digital Highlighting Enlightenment!

How did I miss this? How is it that I wasn't aware that this could be done? Tonight I blindly discovered by hitting a random web page that Adobe Acrobat Reader allows text and highlighting annotations. This after spending the past few weeks searching with Darlene Bassett for an easy solution for using these features for working with kids on summarization skills using digital text. You might recall this post of July 29. I had thought that web-based Awesome Highlighter was the best solution, only to get a report back from Ed Latham that there had been issues when he tried it out with a group at a workshop he was doing.

So this evening, when I happened upon this, I was encouraged . . . and indeed wasn't disappointed when I tried it. And more importantly, I found that Apple's Preview works just as slick as Adobe in this regard. Simply save anything as a pdf using the PRINT/SAVE AS PDF method and you're good to go.

Now I suspect that this must have been pointed out to me sometime in the past, and I really should have known, but I'm elated that the answer to my search has presented itself. It's been a good day!

Now what else have I missed in the highlighting/annotation world? Suppose next I'll find out that there is a built-in ability to do this in OS X. And yes, I do know Noteshare does it, but student machines at the high schools where this is going to be used do not have Noteshare.

Preview's Hidden Powers

Organizing, Manipulating and Using Images

Essential Question: How can we use images to communicate?


Monday, August 11, 2008

Delightful Day in the River Valley

Cloudy and rainy outside, but a warm and bright group of pre-K through 12 teachers in room 218 at Mountain Valley High School. The essential question: How can we make use of web pages in our classrooms? The vehicle: FirstClass Rapid Web Designer. Some examples of pages created today:

Phil Merrill's Industrial Arts/ Technology
Craig Dilman's Science
Mrs. Buckingham's Kindergarten
Family and Consumer Science
Mrs. Rich's Third Grade Classroom
Erica Grimaldi's Health at MVMS
Mrs. Allen's Fifth Grade
Mrs. McInnus' First Grade

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mountain Valley Summer Technology Institute 2008

Once again Mountain Valley Schools in cooperation with Dirigo and Region 9 Schools are involved for 4 days in an annual institute with a large number of sessions that look at connecting technology with classroom and school goals. The final two days will will focus particularly on teacher collaboration on team and district needs.

On Monday I will be leading a workshop on FirstClass Rapid Web Designer, a tool that makes web creation almost as easy as writing an email, a vast improvement over last year's struggle with Dreamweaver. The agenda is located here.

On Tuesday I will be working with teachers on Organizing, Manipulating, and Using Images in the classroom. We'll start with iPhoto and expand from there. Find the agenda here.

Other opportunities:

Blogging with Mike Nolette
Case-e II with Jan Bordeau
Digital Storytelling with Eileen Broderick
Kidspiration with Eileen Broderick
NeoOffice with Sarah Irish
NetSmartz with Amy Ryder
Research Strategies with Amy Ryder
iMovie with Jeff Bailey
iWork with Ben Bridges
iWeb with Nick Waugh
MS Office with Jeff Bailey
Smartboards, Monitors and LCD's with Jeff Bailey and Andrea York
Universal Design for Learning with Dan Ryder
Wiki/Web 2.0 with Mike Nolette
United Streaming with Mary Gamble
Podcasting with Nick Waugh
Grant Writing with Gloria Jenkins
And many additional collaborative projects . . .

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Visual Literacy Continued . . .

Find these new pages at the LIM Resources Wiki. Feel free to modify, add, delete, elaborate, extrapolate, etc. . . . and include projects that work for you. AND . . . please do give yourself credit by adding your name and/or email address.

Elements of Art
Principles of Design
Styles of Art
Art History

Photo Credit: Water Lilies

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

'08-'09 Conference/Workshop Calendar

It's time to once again build a calendar for conferences and workshops available to Maine educators for the coming school year. A wiki list has been started here. Please add events that you are aware of.

I am a dinosaur . . .

I came across the writing of Maine teacher, James G. Fabiano, this evening, amazed that I hadn't noticed his writing before this. In "A Dinosaur of Education," there is an opportunity to appreciate the perspective of long-time teachers.

What do you think?

A Dinosaur of Education Blog
Other Writing by JGF
Life Without Teaching

Walking the Talk

Recently a new type of conference called Constructing Modern Knowledge premiered in New Hampshire. Sarah Sutter of EduEyeView attended and gives an excellent review of this novel experience. Iconoclast Gary Stager was the organizer and promoter of this "hands-on" dive-right-in experience.

Photo Credit

“Become the change you wish to see in the world."

~ Mahatma Gandhi

Collaborating with Google Docs

Teachers and Principals Talk about Google Docs

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Shining Eyes

Essential Question: What creates excitement in learning?

Photo Credit

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Unless Someone Cares

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." ~The Lorax, Dr. Suess
It's been a good day. My youngest niece, Emily, played Sour Kangaroo with enthusiasm in Auburn Little Theater's production of Seussical Jr. Community theater is magical . . . and this performance was no exception. The idea of gathering a diverse group of people, assigning roles, learning skills, practicing, and working as a team to create a performance to delight an audience is the essence of good project-based education.

Shouldn't schools be doing more of it?

"Is there a common denominator that transcends the millenium -- that will survive the amazing technological revolution that we are in? All the technology, programs, buildings, and other resources that we have, will not have the life-changing power of one caring person"

"The Common Denominator is you."

~ Dr. Mark Eastman

Essential Question: In the end, what is most important?

Character at LIM Resources


Process Skills at LIM Resources

Wisdom of Dr. Seuss

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Nonverbal Communications

Question: If much of what we communicate is nonverbal, why don't we study it in schools?

Resources at LIM Resources Wiki on Nonverbal Communications

Photo Credit

Friday, August 1, 2008

Fed Up

I just caught, on MSNBC, another prominent politician once again bashing American teachers. The argument seems to be that, if teachers worked hard enough, all problems in our schools would be solved. What absolute balderdash!

Why do we just silently let these across-the-board statements of disrespect go unchallenged?

I'm so weary of this. Attacking workers instead of the cultural problems that have developed due to disparity of income and wealth . . . and the encouragement of the lowest common denominator in our mass media . . . in the most powerful nation in the world is downright dishonest. This scapegoat mentality does nothing to improve education. I would argue, instead, that our culture has become coarser because of the lack of ethical concern and behavior of the ruling class.

Public school teachers work within a system pretty much dictated by national and state law. The idea that school unions have some incredible power is, in my mind, ludicrous. Teachers do the best they can within the parameters of their environment. The teachers I know work hard . . . in many cases, even to the detriment of their own personal lives.

Reconfiguring the curriculum boxes and measuring student progress as if students were merely widgets in the economy is not the answer. A variety of causes have created an underclass that has lost hope for a better future and sees no good reason to work at something that will unlikely make a difference in their lives.

Want better scores? Eliminate student apathy!

Essential Question: How do we eliminate student apathy?

Photo Credit

U.S. Presidential Election

Richard Byrne's blog, Free Technology for Teachers, brought my attention to this new Common Craft video about the Presidential electoral process.

Essential Question: How do we inform and engage our students in a non-partisan manner?

Presidential Election Information
Wikipedia: United States Presidential Election, 2008
History Central: United States Presidential Elections