Monday, August 31, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Community Schools and Declining Enrollments

Enrollments are decreasing in many Maine schools. In most areas, the community school is very important to the citizens living close to it. The Town of Harpswell is part of MSAD#75 and has two elementary schools, the West Harpswell School and Harpswell Islands School. Enrollments are down, which means something has to give in order to keep costs down. One of the buildings has been selected to close next year, and this has been a very controversial and emotional time for many living in this beautiful coastal town with a diverse population .

Signs along the road voice this concern and disappointment.

Wikipedia: Harpswell, Maine

A Former Harpswell Controversy:

Cribstone Bridge Spans History and Culture
Wikipedia: The Bailey Island Bridge
Explore Maine: The Cribstone Bridge
Cribstone Bridge Undergoing Repairs

Photo Credit: Pam Kenney, Cribstone Educational Services

"Maine Laptop Expansion Moves Forward"

Article at Education Week's Digital Directions

LD # 1446

An Act To Create the Maine Online Learning Program

This legislation was passed on June 9, 2009. Anyone know anything about it?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Augmented Reality

by Kern Kelley

"Any sufficiently advanced technology
is indistinguishable from magic."
- Arthur C. Clark

This quote pretty much sums up how most of us feel the first time we see augmented reality in. If you are wondering what it is, ReadWriteWeb has a great post explaining it while keeping it in perspective of it's importance in relationship to other new technologies. There's even a cool graph of tech-hype vs long term usefulness:

I had the chance to show AR in action to a number of new Google Certified Teachers at the latest GTA in Boulder, Colorado. While it is as cool and magical as it seems, (Wes Fryer said it reminded him of being on the Jedi Counsel in Star Wars.)

How to I set it up?
  • Download Google Sketchup, a 3D modeling tool for MAC or PC.
  • Then, create a 3D model or download one from the 3D Model Warehouse. Note: The smoothness is dependant on the speed of your computer, so I'd start with a model without a ton of detail. Like this.
  • Go to the AR-Plugin page and download the 30sec trial.
  • Then download and print the marker needed to display the object.
  • Copy the plugin into the plugin folder in Sketchup. The locations will be dependant on your computer, but here are the MAC and PC user guides.
  • Turn on your webcam, load a model, click on the AR icon, and let the amazement begin.
The second question to be asked after, "How did you do that!" is, "How can I use this in the classroom?" And like most technologies, it depends on your age level and purpose. All levels will react to how cool it is initially, but like more new technologies, by the 3rd time they've seen it the novelity has worn off. This is how we use it my district. All of our 8th graders build projects for their Integrated Technology class and make Sketchup prototypes of their items before construction can start. This is a way for students to 'hold' the item in their hand and turn it around and see if their model reflects what they were trying to create.


Another very cool application of the technology.

"Mac vs. PC will play out in Maine's high schools"

Article in the Journal of New England Technology

IID ARRA Competitive Grants

Link to information on grants to leverage use of OER

A whimsical sandbox of one approach to indexing OER for MLR

Another MLR/OER sandbox using Google Sites

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Professional Development Opportunities 2009-10

A page has been created for a collaboration on workshops, conferences, etc. that will be available to educators and others during the coming school year. Please feel free to add, modify, delete, embellish, enhance the page to come up with a valuable source for Maine educators.

Professional Development Opportunities 2009-10 at LIM Resources

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Information Overdose

"Having too much information is no better than having too little since neither allows us to act more responsibly." ~ Jason Ohler

"Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense." ~ Gertrude Stein, American Writer

“One of the effects of living with electric information is that we live habitually in a state of information overload. There's always more than you can cope with.” ~ Marshall McLuhan

“Information overload is like drinking from a firehose” ~ anonymous

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Jeff Bailey's New Video Wiki

Jeff Bailey of Mountain Valley High School, formerly an English teacher, will be teaching video production and CAD this coming school year. Jeff's new wiki for his video classes is called MVHSvid and is growing quickly in resources. You might also check out Jeff's Wicked Decent Learning blog.

Additional Video Resources at LIMResources

RSU 10 Summer Learning & Technology Institute 2009

Once again I find myself at Mountain Valley High School for the annual summer institute. The first two days of the week are devoted to an array of half day and full day workshops on various topics. This now includes employees of the new RSU 10 which combines SAD#42, SAD#39, and SAD#21. I've been very impressed with how well the tech staff is doing in making this huge transition in infrastructure. It is a huge job that includes the addition of the MLTI high school laptop program in three separate high schools as well. RSU10 is indeed fortunate to have such a group of highly-skilled technical individuals, with wonderful people skills as well, to make the transition a reality.

My full-day offerings were:

FirstClass RWD
Organizing, Manipulating, and Using Images

These last two days are given to collaborative classroom projects that various teams proposed. Several of us have the job of wandering between groups, acting as resources in applying technology to curriculum goals.

I have done this institute for several years now and thoroughly enjoy the approach. The institute was initially seeded by competitive IID funds, but for the last 4 or 5 years has been funded from a variety sources. Teachers are paid for their summer work time and work in areas that they wish to become more proficient in helping kids to learn.


Immigration Resources

Classroom and School Grants

Grant Writing
Maine Grants

Friday, August 7, 2009

"Teach Digital: Curriculum by Wes Fryer"

Wes Fryer freely publishes digital handouts that are part of his presentations at conferences and workshops of all kinds. I'm perplexed and disappointed that I had not happened upon them earlier, but now I have another incredible resource just a click away. Thanks, Wes.

Here are just a few of the topics:

Blended Learning
Digital Storytelling
Family Learning Blog

If you go to the front page of the wiki, you find many more conference/workshop topics and accompanying resources on the right sidebar. Again, note that these are freely given under a Creative Commons License. And even more importantly, they don't require any special password or proprietary software for access. A ubiquitous web browser is all that is needed.

BTW, for the uninitiated, Wes blogs at Moving at the Speed of Creativity.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Monday, August 3, 2009

Students and Technology

by Becky Ranks

We are living in a Digital World. As teachers we are constantly being told that we need to change the way that we prepare students for the 21st Century. The American classroom looks much the same as it did almost 100 years ago...desks in rows, content separated into blocks with bells ruling the day.....Teachers standing at the front of the class delivering much of the content through lectures. We continue to ban all forms of digital devices from the clssroom including cell phones and ipods, even though experts in the field continue to promote their use in schools. Students are immersed in technology before and after school, and we continue to act as though that has nothing to do with their learning experiences. I think that most teachers realize the implications of this continually expanding digital world, but its up to us to convince the decision-makers that change is necessary. Students also can be part of this conversation and should be. Mistakes will be made, but that's how we learn. Until we trust in teachers to be part of the decision-making process, we may remain stuck right where we are teaching our 21st Century students with 20th Century tools and methods.

In my role as an Instructional Specialist, I am always promoting the use of new digital tools in the classroom. The Web 2.0 tools and the Open Educational Resources available are so exciting that it's difficult to find enough time in the day to explore them all. I also think it leads us to a cautionary tale. As much as we enjoy learning and exploring we also need to put everything into perspective. Are we constantly connected, texting, Skyping, Tweeting, e-mailing? If the answer is yes, then we need to take stock in the importance of these digital tools in our lives and the lives of our students. A national report recently stated that young people are now at threat of a Vitamin D deficiency. This has come about because of our fascination with television, video games, music, and all things digital. A simple 15 minutes per day in the sunlight is the cure.Another threat is what author Richard Louv calls Nature Deficiency Disorder. He explains that new condition in his best-selling book...The Last Child in the Woods, a highly recommended read for all educators.

It's all about balance. The world of our students is changing and we as educated people have to be part of that change and do what's best for our greatest resource, our children, the citizens of tomorrow. When you walk into that classroom in September, think about how teaching and learning has changed in the last few years and think about how we can all be part of positive decision-making in our schools and help those young digital natives become responsible decision-makers themselves with strong bones and a healthy appreciation of the natural world.