Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Internet Resources Session at MVMS

"Thinking about using Internet resources in the classroom is like …"

"Asking students to conduct Internet searches is like . . . "

Right this way ------------>

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What Do You Think: Parent Visits To Classrooms


It feels good to be back at Learning In Maine. During an epic battle with carpal tunnel this past year it took all my energy to keep my personal blog going. But I am feeling much better.

I needed some idea to get back in the saddle, and I got that idea last week.

I don't normally read editorials; I figure I listen to enough news usually to form my own opinion about whatever topic is at hand. But I do find myself reading editorials that have to do with education.

"Closed-door School Policy" appeared in the Ellsworth American and I found myself having a completely opposite point of view about it. Since I work for the paper, it isn't appropriate for me to send in a letter to the editor but I did want to put out the question to other people out there to see if others felt similarly.

The basic argument is that parents should be able to visit their kid's classroom whenever they want. I think that's completely off base.

I imagine many of us work in an environment where we control our own schedules to some degree. We know when a client will come in or whether we will need to be at a meeting later. Imagine if you worked somewhere where someone could walk in at any moment. Distracting? Hard to do your work? Absolutely. Just ask a receptionist or someone who works in a call center about being completely available. It's exhausting. Yet teachers are being asked for this constant availability in this editorial.

Is it that teachers are doing supersecret things they don't want parents to see? Of course not.

The truth is kids are distracted when their parents are there. (I certainly was when I was a student anyway.) In addition, when the parent visits, the teacher is trying to manage both the students' and parent's interests at the same time. What the parent ends up with is not even an accurate picture of a typical class.

Here's my stance on this issue: I say come on in parents but do let me know when you will so I could do a lesson that could incorporate you or even just make the observation a little less distracting. Let's face it, you're there somewhat to evaluate me and from one adult to another, that makes me a little nervous even if I am a good teacher. If you want to talk about your child specifically, let's set up a time after school where we can talk without me being distracted by teaching. Because both of us want the same thing: for me to be teaching your child the best that I can.

So what do you think about parents dropping in to your classroom? Maybe I'm being too sensitive about this but it struck a nerve with me. . .

The 2009 MLTI Student Conference - Call for Presenters

I've attended several of the annual student conferences that Jim Moulton has organized. It is an extremely powerful experience. If you haven't attended, you certainly should. Better yet, submit an idea for a presentation, either by yourself - or even better yet - along with your students.

Here is Jim's Call to Action:

I am writing today to encourage teachers and technical staff from across the state of Maine to submit an idea for a session to present at the 6th annual MLTI Student Tech Team Conference, to be held on Friday, May 29, 2009 @ UMaine in Orono. Please consider being part of this year's conference, and write to let me know that you are interested in joining us as a presenter! No details needed or expected at this point, just an idea of a topic you think would make for a good session. I will hound you for the focus later!

The conference will be sponsored by Apple, and the MLTI will be partnering with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and ACTEM, the Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine .

The focus this year is once again STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a clear understanding of the critical role played by the Arts & Humanities in supporting deep understanding of those areas.


A) Sessions are one hour in length, and might be repeated depending on interest.
B) OK, so registration is not a lot per person, but it is, of course, waived for presenters (How kind of us, eh?)
B1) But - registration will include lunch this year! So yes, there is such a thing as a free lunch.
C) We are looking for both student-involved as well as non-student-involved sessions

This year we are going to continue what we started last year, in that we are going to try hard to fill the thirty Block 1 sessions (9:30 - 10:30) with primarily teacher & student team presentations - we want kids to have a chance to show the MLTI stuff they are doing both inside the classroom and out. Block 2's thirty sessions (11:00 - 12:00) will not be limited to student involved presentations.

And we are planning something special for Block 3 - a very cool and empowering "Super Session" with all participants involved! Not only will it be a great session, it will assure everyone is back in the brand new Hutchins Concert Hall for the door prizes and closing!

Here is a link to the conference clearinghouse page, where you can visit archives of past conferences to get an idea of how this has worked, as well as watch the current effort unfold:

Last year broke all expectations with over 640 folks in attendance, so we need all hands on deck, and are starting the recruitment early! Target for participation this year is 800.

The focus is on hands-on, engaging uses of the technology with real-world, real-learning, real-teaching purposes. We want to connect people to people and not simply people to technology, and have everyone leaving this day more powerful than when they arrived.

Specifically, we are looking for sessions that will have folks leaving saying things like this:

"Wow - that was cool! I learned how to do some great stuff."

"The kids loved it. And I learned a trick or two as well. I wonder if we could..."

"I never knew I could do that... I'll have to play around with that."

"Hmmm... that looks like a college I could have some fun at."

"I guess I am pretty good at working with this computer."

"I hope I remember everything I learned!"

"Hey, let me show you something I learned in that last session."

"I hope they do this again next year!"

Thanks so much.



Jim Moulton, Educational Technology Consultant, Inc.
Staff to the Maine Learning Technology Initiative
Faculty Associate of the George Lucas Educational Foundation

Monday, February 16, 2009

Middle Level Education in Maine

MAMLE - Maine Association for Middle Level Education
MLE Institute Ning July 12-16-2009
FaceBook Event

Post other conferences, institutes and workshops here.

Richard Byrne Goes Ice Fishing

Richard is doing some R&R for a few days, but fear not, he has some incredible guest bloggers contributing to his award-winning blog, Free Technology for Teachers. You must check these out.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Flu in Maine

Suspect that you or someone you know might have influenza? I think this Google tool says it all:

Flu in Maine Website
Flu Hitting Maine Hard This Year
Family Doctor
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Flu Treatment and Care

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

MVMS Learning & Technology "Getting Started"

Today's initial session will be from 3 - 5:00 in the Media Center


Essential Question: How do teachers and students use technology in the classroom?

Where are we? Where might we go?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ten Top Things

The Future of Education is a relatively new, but rapidly growing, community of learners on a Ning network, that is asking some excellent questions about where education is headed.

You can sign up to be a member of the community here. After you sign up, go here to find information on logging onto a synchronous discussion using Elluminate on "The Top Ten Things We Have Learned from K-12 Students about Educational Technology in 2008."

Monday, February 9, 2009

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Greening of the Digital Landscape

Guest Column by Jason Ohler

Suddenly everyone’s favorite color is green. Not the color of money and envy but of their antithesis – environmental embarrassment. We are slowly awakening from our high technology revolution the way we do from an engaging movie, shedding our suspended disbelief to rediscover the world around us. What we see is that our relentless push for change has come with a price tag, namely the generation of a mortifying amount of computer generated landfill.

Much of today’s green concern about computing focuses on energy conservation and more efficient, earth friendly ways to discard yesterday’s model. But almost none of it focuses on a lifestyle change we have quietly embraced that expects us to upgrade every two years. After all, our throw-away culture is also our economic engine, unrelenting in its desire to make room for the new at the expense of the previous. It is built upon faster, lighter, cheaper…always with a shorter half-life.

The result is that we are generating piles of old gear that has no reasonable expectation of use beyond its very short life cycle. If you are 40 you have probably already had and discarded at least a half dozen computers, not to mention numerous television sets and other now quaint digital memorabilia. Sure, you gave your last laptop to your niece, who will no doubt get a few year’s use of it. But eventually not even the indigent will take it because it is, basically, useless.

I got to see this first hand recently when I volunteered to head up Operation Seek and Discard. Our mission was to search every nook and cranny in my University of Alaska office building for defunct technology that was resting in some out-of-sight-out-of-mind place. For one week, myself and a brave cadre of colleagues spelunked under desks, in closets, in filing cabinets long ago locked, and managed to scare up enough obsolete tech to sink a mainframe. It turns out that a lot of the defunct gear was hiding in plain sight on people’s shelves and desks. We had just learned to ignore it, the way we had learned to ignore the water cooler that hadn’t been filled in years.

At the end of the week, the dispossessed pieces of tech were gathered in a pile in the center of a large room, forming a collage of hulking desktop computers, low resolution cameras, VHS players and a mishmash of cords and cables that held it all together the way spaghetti holds together a fine Italian meal. People would come by and stare before shaking their heads and saying, “Remember when we would sell our own kids for one of those things,” pointing to a color printer the size of a small refrigerator. “Now we can’t give them away.” Alas, we can’t give our kids away either.

As I stared at all the obsolete tech silently huddled together doing the dance of the digitally dead I felt a mixture of guilt, sadness and denial. After all, I was one of the digitally hopeful who helped convince the forces of the industrial age to walk out on to the leading edge, only to watch the edge sprint away from us at gigaspeeds. The pursuit of staying current quickly became inevitable but impossible. This mess was my mess.

So much of this comes as a surprise because the digital age has so drastically redefined the concept of obsolescence. Cars with seized engines and rusted out frames are still good for parts. In fact, we have junkyards dedicated to their utility. But that isn’t how the digital age works. Most of the stuff we had to get rid of in Operation Seek and Discard worked just fine. The only problem with it is that it was… sloooowwww. And because it was slow, it had become incompatible with the faster technology everyone else was using.

The good news for our institution was that it did a good job of wringing every last drop out of technology that the public would allow. After all, the public will be the first to criticize an educational institution running last year’s gear. But the bad news is also the good news. Despite anyone’s best efforts, the digital age seems destined to generate landfill by the truckload. This could change. If the public demanded laptops made out of spare parts and recycled cardboard I am sure the engineering community could rise to the challenge. But I don’t see that happening soon. And it’s not just institutions that make a mess – we do it too. We wouldn’t dream of making our kids use slow computers running yesterday’s operating system. It’s the digital age equivalent of not feeding our children.

At the end of the Operation Seek and Discard I had created two piles. The first was stuff that we would either melt down for scrap, donate to the local gun club for target practice or ship off to state surplus. That is, anything that was over three years old. The second much smaller pile consisted of stuff we might actually use. While much of pile two was on the cusp of obsolescence, there was one piece of technology that had been around for 30 years and still had another 30 years left in it: the upright Royal vacuum cleaner. The custodian claimed that.

What do we make of all this? Surely schools can’t live with yesterday’s processor speeds. It’s downright irresponsible. And they can’t continue to force students to stare at fuzzy screens. That’s inhumane. So we wait for some social movement, some enterprising green company, some funded mandate from the government that will make green computing truly possible. When it comes perhaps it will allow us to at least reuse our computer casings, inserting new innards as they become available. Perhaps it will entail a new approach to creating computers that makes their constituent parts truly recoverable and useful. Or maybe it will drive us to create computers that are comprised of so little that it won’t matter.

But in the meantime, we live with our mess, teaching the science of ecology as a game of catch-up in a world that is exploding with efforts to turn third world nations into first world competitors, complete with the purchasing power that entails. And while we wait for the other shoe drop in many countries embracing a digital lifestyle, we approach our own future like we do the federal deficit, once again passing the buck on to our children.

by Jason Ohler

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Online Tutorials

by Margie Genereux

I recently stumbled on two great sites, and wanted to share them: - great software tutorials - Ninja - awesome, easy-to-follow OpenOffice tutorials

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Maine Adult Learning Portal

Link to Portal

This is an impressive use of technology for communication and collaboration of Maine's adult education offerings - a must see.

Apple Yanks iMovie 6 Download

Link to Article and Reactions

iMovie HD 6 Moving into Ether

Monday, February 2, 2009

Meeting on Diploma Stakeholder Recommendations

Informational Meeting
Diploma Stakeholder Recommendations for
High School Graduation Requirements

Western Maine Region

This meeting is intended for K-12 educators.

This meeting will share the official recommendations from the Stakeholder’s Group on Graduation Requirements convened by the Legislature during the Summer and Fall of 2008. There will be an opportunity to ask questions.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009
4:00 – 5:30 p.m.

Lewiston High School, Room B109 Lecture Hall
156 East Avenue
Lewiston, ME 04240
Phone: (207) 795-4190

Info on other regional meetings can be found at the LIM Online Community.

Workshop: Netbooks & Linux

The Linux Netbook User Training
Feb. 18th: 9:00am to 1:30 pm
With David Trask


Making Movies with Telstar 3 Group