Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tandberg: Are You Using It? By: Becky Ranks

Today I went to visit my niece, Jaime Steward, at the Garrett Schenck School in Anson. Having heard so much about the Tandberg equipment provided by the RUS grants, I wanted to see a video-conferencing session in action, and also wanted to see what all of the fuss was about. Jaime is a technology specialist with RSU 74 and a real risk taker and role model for the rest of us as she single handedly put all of the equipment together and then scheduled video-conferencing sessions with an aquarium in Alaska, an all girls' school in Tennessee, and NASA. Today Kindergarten and First Graders talked to NASA and asked questions that ranged from; "What do astronauts eat?" to "How long does it take to get to Mars?" At the end of the session the NASA official switched the screen to a live feed of the Space Shuttle just after it had landed in California. Students were able to ask questions and view wonderful images provided by NASA. The NASA official talked and joked with them, and made them feel comfortable. It was a wonderful experience and thanks Jaime for inviting me. One session was featured on the front page of the Waterville Morning Sentinel. So, my questions are: How many schools with Tandberg equipment are using it in a similar fashion and having success? What are the obstacles if they are not? Many resources about video-conferencing and Tandberg can be found here: Especially check out the KC3 contest. Thanks to Jaime for being an exemplary leader in technology at a time when budgets are being whittled down to almost nothing especially in the area of equipment and other extras like field trips. She is taking students on virtual field trips and giving them experiences they otherwise would not have.

MLTI Student Tech Conference

by Sarah Sutter

students presenting at MLTI tech conference

MLTI Student Tech Conference 2008

Tomorrow morning at 5am I will be on a bus with 40 7-12th graders headed for the largest student tech conference in the state. The kids are excited to go and be part of the 1000 participant event, learning from and with students in workshops with topics like Scratch with an MIT Scratch team member, internet radio streaming by kids, Legos & robots, Alice, Google Earth & Maps, and so much more. Most of the workshops are led by the students and a teacher or two, sharing what wonderful things they’ve been doing with technology in the classroom this year.

MLTI student tech conf 2009

Final Session with 800+ students with laptops. Photo by Alice Barr

The final session is after lunch, and involves all 1000 student participants and the chaperones. This year the focus is on social action and global connections, and one tool we’ll be using is Now, I know many of you have used this with students already, but this time we’ve got a stand alone Free Rice site built just for the MLTI conference. It will be reset to zero tomorrow at 1:00, and then we’ll begin accumulating grains of rice to address world hunger. This is where you come in! The site is open to all, and your grains of rice will count as long as you start after 1:00 EDT (-4 UCT). The details are below, but the key is to go to: and participate with the 1000 students in Maine as we see how quickly we can raise the rice totals.

The MLTI Student Tech Conference is a wonderful event for Maine students. I hope you will lend a few minutes of your time, and perhaps that of your students, to participate in this one small step to addressing world hunger. – Thanks — Sarah

From Jim Moulton:

(PLEASE NOTE: Though the site is now live, rice “earned” via the site in advance of the 1 PM EDT (5 PM GMT) start time for the Conference session will not be “counted.” Once the conference session begins, the site will be re-set, counting of contributions will begin fresh, and the site will remain live until the amount of rice available for donation has been exhausted.)

Maine students and the World Food Programme invite you to join in helping to feed the hungry around the globe via

On May 27, 2010 at 1 PM EST (5 PM GMT) during the 7th Annual MLTI Student Conference, students from across Maine will be going to as a body – working in a wireless environment that has been fine tuned by network technicians of the University of Maine System and Cisco to facilitate 1000 simultaneous connections. But in 2010 purposeful use of social networks has to be a part of taking on any major effort, and so Maine educators are reaching out across their state-wide, national, and worldwide human networks to invite others to join us in donating rice via a customized version of

To learn more about the 7th Annual MLTI Student Conference, please head here:

To join us in helping to fight world hunger, go here:

To help fight hunger in Maine, go to

To help fight world hunger beyond the conference, head to

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Texas, CCSS & Corporate Political Control

I'm so glad I live in Maine and not Texas. After doing a bit of research, I realize how much political control there is in determining how schooling is delivered in that state. And the sad part of it is that there seems to be increased collusion between corporate textbook publishers and politicians. There even seems to be an attempt to shut down any use of open source materials in teaching unless it has been approved at the State level. From my perspective, this is big government and corporations mandating what parents and teachers should think and say. How did this happen in a state known for the independence of thought and the self-reliance of its citizens?

Sadly, what is happening in Texas seems to be happening to the rest of the country as well through the Common Core State Standards in which politicians and corporations are determining what is to be taught in our local schools in an attempt to commodify and standardize as though people were simply widgets and cogs in a machine rather than complicated, but warm human beings.

Oddly enough, some Texans are speaking of the CCSS as being a plot by progressives to indoctrinate children. The truth of the matter is that CCSS is being promoted by conservatives and liberals alike. It is being pushed by the Business Round Table, politicians, and many conservative think tanks and foundations, as well as huge textbook publishing companies.

Who should control education in the United States? Local citizens, educators, and school boards . . . or rich and powerful state and national entities and interests?

What do you think?

Cartoon Credit

Sunday, May 23, 2010


by Robert V. Keteyian

As a young child, my grandfather would often greet me with outstretched arms—a welcoming and warm expression of his love and acceptance. But before giving me a hug, his hands would cradle my jaw, one hand on each side, firmly holding my head. Then I would collapse into his legs where he would envelope me and say in his Armenian accent, “How is the Bob?”

I have done the same with my grandchildren. Yet, I wonder at what age this will feel uncomfortable to them. When will they outgrow this type of physical contact and feel too mature to accept it? I lament that we ever outgrow this kind of affection, for I still feel the impulse with my closest loved ones—my wife, our children, brothers, nephews, nieces, and in-laws.

In the Armenian American community where I grew up, cradling the face was common among people of all ages. Cultural differences in expressing affection don’t easily translate, just like many words can’t literally be translated. What does it mean to have this kind of physical contact?

It expresses the nature of the relationship, the bond of family (whether by blood or choice), and undying affection. We are one. We are inseparable by geography. We touch the faces of those who are emotionally and spiritually closest to us. This behavior is about utter devotion. It is not like a hug or grasping the shoulders of a friend. It is more intimate than a kiss on the cheek. It reaches us in a deeper place.

Touch is powerful—more powerful than we often imagine. I still remember a time in college when I was touched on the arm by a faculty member during my internship at the university counseling center. One day, I was standing in the hallway looking out a window near his office, as he was hustling by. In that moment, as he stepped into his office, he put his hand on my upper arm, squeezed gently, and said, “How you doing?” I can still feel the sensation on my arm and the feeling inside me forty years later. He touched a place in me, communicating something kinesthetically that moved me.

Touch is not an auxiliary form of communication meant to enhance words. It is primary and can result in immediate changes in how we think and behave. Couples who touch more tend to have higher relationship satisfaction. Children receive touch as the first form of communication in their lives. Yet the amount of touch we receive as we grow older diminishes, often dramatically.

Touching is a complicated matter in our current culture. So often we are afraid to touch one another, yet it is natural; and I hope the grandchildren will continue to accept the old country legacy of cradling the face. Perhaps as I grow older they will indulge me and continue to intuitively/kinesthetically understand my love and devotion without embarrassment.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

MLTI Summer Institute 2010

Digital Citizenship in the 21st Century ~ Raising the Flag!

by Bob Mcintire

Take a break from the pressures of summer chores and recreation for a
professional recharge in Castine at the 2010 MLTI Summer Institute
July 28th through the 30th at Maine Maritime Academy. The popular
professional development event is expanding, adding a fourth half-day
session this year and featuring an eight hour Google Workshop for
the day before the Institute.

Sessions emphasize hands-on, imaginative professional development
opportunities in all content areas. Educators in all grade levels
including adult education are welcome with focus on grades 7 through 12.

This year the presentations will encourage activities and resources to help answer to the question: “How can we model and promote ethical, responsible, and productive behavior among all members of our digital society?” The goal - connect to one or more elements of digital citizenship: etiquette, ethics, safety, savvy, presence, and productivity.

There are two special highlights to this year’s Institute; Wednesday’s keynote presentation and workshop sessions by Dr. Jason Ohler and what will be a jaw-dropping, ear dazzling performance Thursday evening by AudioBody.

Jason Ohler has been exploring digital citizenship, story telling, music composition, playwriting, and other forms of personal expression for over twenty five years. He has lead and been part of research and program initiatives in education and public policy aimed at helping kids, teachers and citizens use technology "effectively, creatively and wisely." His involvement covers a wide range of areas, including e-learning, empowering kids and teachers academically and artistically through technology, building learning communities through networking, community development, educational technology planning, digital storytelling, and telecommunications and technology planning always with a sense of fun and purpose.

Dr. Ohler is Professor Emeritus of Educational Technology at the University of Alaska having led the Educational Technology and Distance Learning program there from 2003 to 2008 and before that responsible for program development and management, teaching, on-line and on-site course development, training and research. His many publications including Digital Storytelling in the Classroom and Then What? Everyone's Guide to Living, Learning and Having Fun in the Digital Age have enriched and informed educators worldwide. Check for a bunch more stuff to make you pack your bags right now.

Thursday evening AudioBody will, to put it mildly, rock the house. Brothers Matt and Jason Tardy made their debut under the name AudioBody in 2004 with the album, "Sound. Motion. Theater.” Music from the album was quickly picked-up by internationally acclaimed film-
makers, EepyBird, and featured in two Emmy nominated videos depicting The Extreme Diet Coke and Mentos Experiments. BANG! They had the #1 selling album from the largest independent distributor in the country for a couple of months followed by countless TV credits including VH1, The Today Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Good Morning America. The
members of AudioBody have performed all over the world including the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, the Golden Phoenix Casino in Reno, NV and even The White House in Washington DC three times!

So what are they doing in Maine? They live here around Buckfield rumor has it. They couldn’t wait to come to Castine. We said, “OK!” And we promised gas money. if you dare!

Register for the Institute online at

Don’t delay! Act now and you will earn up to 14 contact hours just for learning and having a great time. “Call for Presentations” is still open at the time of publication at the same website. Got something great to share? RSVP!

More Fine Print - Institute cost is $140.00 per person, double occupancy - bring a friend. $190.00 per person, single occupancy – limited availability. Cost includes food. Such a deal! And a guaranteed good time! Check the website for other cost options. Bring a laptop, preferably a Mac with the current MLTI image or similar software and whatever other cool techno stuff you have.

The Google Workshop for Educators session Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning is a mere $85.00 single or $65.00 per person double occupancy, including lunch, dinner, breakfast and snacks. You can’t beat it!

Support for the MLTI Summer Institute comes from No Child Left Behind - Elementary and Secondary Education Act Title IID Enhancing Education Through Technology. Take advantage of the opportunity before it sails into the sunset.

Maine Tree Identification

The Maine forest is lush now. How about making a leaf collection?

Maine Tree Club
UM Cooperative Extension: Tree Identification
Woodland Owners: Tree Identification Kids' Page: Maine Tree Guide

Tree Leaf Collection
How to Press Leaves
Leaf Collecting & Crafts

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

ASCD - The Whole Child and the CCSS

Is it just me, or does the ASCD endorsement of the Common Core State Standards after promoting the Whole Child philosophy seem incongruous? Would someone care to explain it to me?

The Common Core State Standards were written by Corporate America, including major educational publishing and testing companies . . . and with very little initial input from educators. It essentially commodifies students in the interest of financial gain.

Note that ASCD's "premier sponsor" for their Spring 2010 conference was none other than McGraw-Hill, which just happens to be one of prime movers in developing the CCSS . . . and has huge vested interests in the adoption.

What on earth is ASCD thinking? I, for one, am very disappointed that an organization that I had respected has gone down this road. Ditto for the NEA and AFT.

Again, would someone help me understand this seeming contradiction?

The Whole Child Blog
ASCD Works with CCSSO and NGA on Common Core State Standards Iniative

Rethinking Math Curriculum

by Olga LaPlante

I am very interested in math, I love it, in fact, but have no intimate knowledge of the ways it's taught in the US. What I have seen - quite superfluously - has done little to excite me (for one thing, your long division order is backwards, and ever more confusing) about the prospect of my son getting excited about it either. I have heard many a time from people of various levels of education that they "hate" math - around the world, not just in US - and have always been perplexed by it.

The talk I have highlighted here appeals to me - and resurrects the appeal of math to a wider audience. Given that in many schools, the wise solution to "raise test scores" is simply longer hours of teaching math using the same textbook in the same classroom of kids with the same teacher using the same strategies, I wonder if the success is guaranteed.

I have also read a number of posts on this blog about the math curriculum (Everyday Math being one of the most memorable) and math core standards (somehow, Everyday Math was mentioned in that post, too, hmmmm...) and wonder if the more experienced and knowledgeable persons would kindly offer their insight about Dan Meyer's attempt to teach kids about math.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Featuring the Work of Tera Ingraham

Art teachers in Maine are making wonderful use of online tools. Tera Ingraham uses WordPress to enhance her program in Western Maine. Check her wonderful site out here.

Featuring the Work of Karen Wilson

How can a 5th grade teacher make use of WordPress to develop a superb online presence in her community and beyond? Check out Karen Wilson's work here.

Karen shared her project last night at our learning and technology finale.

Steven Brill on Race to the Top

NYT: The Teachers' Unions' Last Stand

Education Week: Scoring Race to the Top: A Look Behind the Curtain

Essential Question: Who do we want in control of schooling in Maine and the U.S. ?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Featuring Melissa Prescott & G.O.T. Farms

A shout-out to Melissa Prescott, art teacher at Telstar Middle School for Service Learning on Sustainable Energy empowered by technology. An outstanding example of project learning and the power of constructivism and connectivism.

Featuring the Work of Mark Arnold

I just happened upon some of the outstanding work of Mark Arnold this morning which I hadn't seen before. He is at Mount Desert High School . . . which is, it so happens, yet another Maine school that is making wonderful use of Google Apps.

First of all, you really need to check out this site called Teaching & Learning Guides. What a straight-forward template for organizing content and resources!

Next, check out Mark's Trojan TechNotes for very helpful advice and resources.

Google Sites 101
Google Apps for Educators
Digital Storytelling
Why Google Apps for Schools
Differentiated Instruction
TV & Radio to Educational Resources
Learning Tools Exposition
Evaluating Web Resources and Wikipedia Articles
Videoconferencing Systems and Idea Bank

Friday, May 14, 2010

Marion Brady on the Common Core State Standards

Ecology of Education:

Featuring Shanna Wheelock of Lubec

While at the Lubec School I met Shanna Wheelock who has taken the initiative of using Google Apps for Education in her art classes. I found out also that Shanna has an excellent blog called the Easternmost Potter in the United States which speaks to her work both in school and beyond the classroom. Fascinating reading grounded in reality.

Check out, as well, these pages:

We Support Lubec High School.
Lubec Arts Alive 2010

Her husband also blogs on poetry, politics and philosophy at Owl Who Laughs.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lubec: Google Apps in the Classroom

I got to watch the sun come up in beautiful Lubec, Maine this morning. Lubec has the distinction of being the eastern most point of the 48 contiguous states . . . and the location of majestic Quoddy Head.

Four of Maine's regional learning and technology mentors (Dawn, Ed, Becky & Jim) are joining forces to assist in helping in on-going training in the Lubec school on using Google Apps for Educators as an online environment.

And Olga LaPlante, another Maine regional mentor, is doing the same thing in SAD #55 today as well.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Should Corporations Control Schooling?

Great conversation starter from PBS Frontline:

College, Inc.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

National Teacher Appreciation Day

Teachers have increasingly become convenient scapegoats of corporations, politicians, and technocrats. This can clearly be seen in the words and actions of those who have very little on-the-ground contact with classrooms and schools, and who think they know best about what is important in the lives of children.

Trying to micro-manage learning through top-down collection of data and prescription of artificial remedies unrelated to local cultural realities is deadly to our democracy and to the goal of promoting teachers and citizens who are inspired and motivated to create life-long learners and critical thinkers in our society.

While a day of appreciation for teachers is fine and dandy, wouldn't it be even better to give them the respect they deserve year-round? This President had it right:

"A distinguishing characteristic of our nation — and a great strength — is the development of our institutions within the concept of individual worth and dignity. Our schools are among the guardians of that principle. Consequently . . . and deliberately their control and support throughout our history have been — and are — a state and local responsibility. . . . Thus was established a fundamental element of the American public school system — local direction by boards of education responsible immediately to the parents of children. Diffusion of authority among tens of thousands of school districts is a safeguard against centralized control and abuse of the educational system that must be maintained. We believe that to take away the responsibility of communities and states in educating our children is to undermine not only a basic element of our freedoms but a basic right of our citizens. " ~ President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Teachers need to continue to be more than just test-preparation agents. They need to be given the freedom to connect with students - where the students are at - within the bounds of available resources and energy.

“If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn't want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher's job.” ~ Donald Quinn

I commend teachers - each with his/her own style, methods and philosophy - today and everyday.

Which teacher had the biggest impact on your life?

National Teacher Day

Teacher Appreciation

Teacher Quotes: 1 2 3 4 5 6