Sunday, December 23, 2007

Go Elfster!

Trying out new interactive websites is what it's about, and I have tried out many (> 150) since August, 2007. Some of these WEB2.0 applications have been duds and duplicates of other applications that work better, but other new applications are excellent. These more effective new applications are easy to use, free to use, well-organized, helpful and fun.

I use these criteria to determine a web application's COOL factor, and Elfster has a very high COOL factor. This is a web application that Steve Dembo, a Classroom 2.0 and Twitter networks colleague, introduced to our network.

Using Elfster, Steve set up a EduTwitterverse Secret Santa group for those in the group who wanted to participate. I was curious, so I signed up. Steve set a spending limit and gave basic instructions. All throughout the gift exchange, Elfster helped Steve manage the entire program through excellent, well timed, information and reminder letters. Plus, he was available on Twitter. Thanks, Steve! Elfster was a great find!

When you join an Elfster group, you fill out a profile page. It includes information about gift preferences with available URLs that fit the spending limit.

Each EduTwitterverse Elfster received the name and profile URL of their Secret Santa recipient, so I read the profile information about mine.

To make it even easier, I found my secret friend and followed her on Twitter. She reciprocated. The Twitter colleague who received my name started following me, so I followed her. We add new followers on this EduTwitterverse group all the time, so I didn't figure out that one of my new Twitter colleagues was also my Elfster until she sent me a notice about my gift to Heifer International. Cool!

My secret pal made no specific gift requests on her profile, she just said, "Be creative!" That was scary! LOL! Then I remembered COFFEE! It was very interesting that my secret EduTwitterverse pal had posted a tweet about coffee a few days before we knew who are secret friends were.

It seems to me, this gift exchange became an excellent way to share cultural experiences with someone in another part of the world.

There is no more creative coffee selection than French Market Coffee. Based in New Orleans, French Market Coffee is the brand served almost everywhere in the area, including Commander's Palace, Gallatoire's Restaurant and other famous New Orleans area restaurants.

I like to buy from New Orleans merchants whenever I can, so that was another plus for French Market Coffee. Lastly, is their fantastic website. It is easy to use and they have excellent information at the French Market University. I ordered a gift set that included French Market coffee and chicory, mug and beignet mix, so my secret Twitter pal could really experience the New Orleans effect. Another plus: it only took 2 days from the moment of my order to my secret pal's receipt of the gift....that was awesome! Thanks, French Market Coffee staff!

For myself, I had requested that a donation be made in my name to Creative Commons or Heifer International. My secret Elfster agreed that Heifer International was a cool opportunity to give a gift that keeps on giving. She bought a share of chicks to be sent to a family who will raise them and send their offspring to another family. It was a very wonderful experience for me to know that my secret Elfster saw value in my choice of gifts, and I thank her very much.

While my Twitter colleagues and I really enjoyed this secret Santa exchange, Elfster has greater potential for social networking. I can imagine endless possibilities to use this for social networking with friends, family and school.

The Elfster exchanges don't even have to be about monetary gifts. For instance, teachers or students could send invitations or URLs for their favorite website, online game or web application. Each person could list their area of interest in their profile, say science, and their Elfster could send them a valuable URL.

What are some of your ideas of ways we could use Elfster for educational purposes?

Check out Elfster, and see what you think.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mac or PC: Can't Decide

People are still talking about this; Let's all get along; go opensource w/Linux and use web applications like IBM's new Symphony of office applications. What do you think?
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Missionairies of Macintosh

I need a new computer.
The disagreeable Toshiba from grad school crashes inexplicably on
it's own whim. I've wiped it clean so many times it has more in common
with Jim Carrey's character in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
than it's brethren that recognize Windows. Needless to say, I'm a
little uncomfortable storing anything important on the old Tosh
(although my trusty external harddrive puts me at ease).
At the day job I use an archaic hand-me-down Dell. Occasionally,
it forgets it has memory upon booting up - only to curiously display
familiar desktop items later in the week just when I begin to get
And though I still adore that old Smith-Corona Super Sterling and it is wireless and portable, it's also disconnected, and just won't cut it long term.
Which leaves your resident blogger at a crossroads... PC or Mac?
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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Mobile post sent by n2teaching using Utterz Replies.  mp3

Testing as an Assignment Tool

Mobile post sent by injenuity using Utterz Replies.  mp3

Breathtaking View of History: Up Close and Personal

On Tuesday, December 11, 2007, three copies of the Magna Carta will be on free, public display in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University.

If you live close or can travel this will be the trip of a lifetime. Most times, these documents cannot be seen by the public.
clipped from

Oxford's Bodleian library holds a quarter of the world’s Magna Cartas

A new survey has revealed that nearly a quarter of the world’s original 13th-century manuscripts of Magna Carta are held at Oxford University’s Bodleian Library.

survey, conducted in advance of a Sotheby’s sale of the a Magna Carta belonging to Ross Perot, has found seventeen surviving Charters

The Magna Carta (or ‘Great Charter of English Liberties’) is considered one of the most important legal documents in the history of democracy. It was agreed by King John at Runnymede in 1215 and reissued throughout the 13th century by England’s rulers. It was the most significant early influence on the extensive historical process that led to the rule of constitutional law today, and its influence extends to the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.

1217 Charters are a unique historical collection,’ says Sarah Thomas, Bodley’s Librarian. Each Charter originally bore the seals of the guardians of the boy King Henry III
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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Mobile post sent by injenuity using Utterz Replies.  mp3

Utterz: Jaiku Plus Jott...sort of

Please note that Injenuity's Utter posting is in the entry above this one. I am still learning how to use this application.

Jennifer Jones, elearning director at a postsecondary school in WA, is testing out utterz to determine the educational feasibility to use this social network. Her colleagues, including me, are trying Utterz with her.

The format is a bit more click intensive than Jaiku, but I will check it out before I make any more evaluations of utterz....wooohoooo! be herd;D

The asynchronous aspect and variability of options to transfer data, including images, video and audio helps raise utterz usability quotient.

These developers are very punny!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Metacognitive Motes of Memory: 1st edition

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

normally I use the share-alike creative commons copyright, but this is part of a greater whole that, while it may SEEM familiar, is my own mashup.
This is a ROUGH DRAFT!

The first edition of a series of Metacognitive Motes of Memory: 1st edition


Wheel Keeps on Turning, an idea expressed by Kansas in "Dust in the Wind"!

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

Synchronicity (Carl Jung) is a concept that may relate to nomothetic causality.

Behaviorism vs. ?????? Who stands for the anecdote?

A galactic hunter (networked machines),represented by the Old Man & Woman, reach out to spread the Nomothic Net to capture the Duncan Idaho ghola and the no-ship, impressions from Frank Herbert's last book, Chapterhouse Dune , written in 1985, just before his death!

My reaction: no data net can capture the individual, for the one is the anecdote...
Balance of nomothetic and idiographic is the mashup of successful living.

Anecdotes of the Nomothetic Net: "Every anecdote is a data point looking for a nomothetic network!" Anthropomorphic aphorism

Related historical folk sayings:

* Take one day at time!
* I'll worry about that when it happens!
* Go with the flow!

Is Game Theory an expression of the nomothetic net?

Is a meme an expression of a nomothetic net or an anecdote within it?

These are some current thoughts based on internal and external experiences and metacognition that have guided me, my education, my career and my interactions.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

What Do Teachers Need?

What do we, as educators, require from teaching tools, resources and references?

When I began teaching children there were very few references that I could access to improve my teaching practice. There were no computers and only a few tools like calculators were available. Many times I couldn't complete lessons or projects in the way I envisioned them, because the tools or the natural abilities to fulfill what I envisioned were not available or didn't exist.

Since I grew up in a home that always embraced the future, I also did. One example is when I bought an electronic calculator as soon as I could afford it. My first one was about the size of a paperback book, and I was thrilled knowing this was high technology. All my other college friends and I were very self-congratulatory about these purchases. I would compare the social impact of these calculators, at that moment in time, with that of the iphone today.

Materials like glitter pens, fancy paper and similar technological advances were not available. Recycling was in, and that was great because I could easily cover Velveeta boxes, large manila envelopes and other stuff with a new colorful, sticky plastic, called Contac Paper. I loved Contac paper!

Living in such a special time when technology was moving faster and faster, I was still humble enough to realize that many of my older relatives, and later my older teaching colleagues, still knew way more about life and teaching than I did.

Looking back, it seems to me, I lived in a family where it was very important that children should carry on the best of the family traditions and common knowledge. To be allowed to sit with the grownups, and LISTEN was such an honor. I loved that, but if I was noisy...I had to leave. I guarantee that didn't happen very often. We lived in New Mexico, and we didn't see our family living in Oklahoma often...this was my best opportunity to learn and I couldn't blow it.

These Elders talked of our past, our present and our future with such passion that I just couldn’t wait to be one of them. They all looked forward to the future while living gracefully in the present. We can hope to be so lucky today!

In an ongoing series on teaching tools and professional resources, I will compare and contrast the development of various tools or resources and their impact on education during my career. I do this to help new teachers learn and develop their philosophy so they may effectively guide their social and technical interactions as they begin their career. Also, I do this for myself and my age peers. I want to remind us that we were young and smart and wet behind the ears at one time when older teachers befriended us and made us feel special.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Tweet, Tweet!

Unless you are a student of early 20th century music, Mitch Miller, or children's music, you may not recognize this song, Let's All Sing Like the Birdies Sing! Tweet, Tweet, Tweet. Tweet, Tweet!, but it is appropriate for what all twitterers do! We TWEET! & TWEET! often. I find Twitter to be an excellent mini-blogging and social networking tool that does allow opportunities for use in the classroom.

At Classroom 2.0, Elizabeth Davis started a discussion on Twitter, Are You Using Twitter?.

Many of us have contributed some interesting thoughts about why, how, where, when we tweet and to whom we tweet. This has been one of the most informative, interesting discussions we have had while I have been a member of Classroom 2.0 educational social network. Please access the discussion. You will enjoy it.

As the discussion progressed, the CR2.0 network evaluated the finer points of our use of Twitter. An important issue discussed was whether to follow people who don't follow you. The problem is that you become interested in their tweets, but you can't send them messages unless they also follow you. My ambiguous thoughts are reflected here:

Following someone on TWITTER is not all it's cracked up to be....sometimes! I don't follow anyone, for long, who won't follow me within a time span, UNLESS there are some overcompensating issues....such as access to information, humor, or other points of interest in their tweets.

For instance, it is highly unlikely (although not impossible:) that Leo Laporte, of TechTV,, and lately Lab with Leo will probably ever follow me, BUT he provides information that is so valuable TO ME that I continue to follow him. He also does not overwhelm my twitter network.

This interaction problem is not a drawback on Jaiku! I really like the comment section on each Jaiku posting. I can comment on anyone's Jaiku posting. There will be people who won't like this, and that is why they may appreciate the selectiveness of Twitter more than Jaiku's forum like qualities.

If people do not want to have a person on their Jaiku contact list, they can remove them. In my experience, what really happens is that most people check your Jaiku postings, and they often become a follower or at least they accept comments and contact! :)

Right now, another member of the #twit(tv) group and I are having a conversation about the low number of women geeks. He thinks there should be more, and I agree! I commented on his posting to Jaiku to #twit(tv)....because I am in the twit(tv) group. He is not in my individual contact list and I am not an individual contact on his list. As a result of this conversation, we may follow each other, or not....BUT we can interact.

What do you think about social networks, such as miniblogging and instant messaging? Do you use Twitter? If not, why not?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

There's No Place Like Home!

Have you ever experienced that moment in the autumn when you REALLY know it is autumn? Remember the moment when all the oaks, maples and other colorful trees are shouting out in their brightly colored pageantry, and you want to sing with the natural world?

Well, today was that day for me, and I would like to share the experience. These pictures would be excellent to use for desktop backgrounds, teaching resources and other activities.

When I first noticed the streamers of autumn fire on the streets of my town, I drove all around to take pictures of public places and various scenes that would be recognizable, but not identifiable. I would recommend that process. I don't have to get permission from homeowners or people, so I try to get these types of pictures for:

* science lessons
* story starters
* history lessons
* recreation
* Geocaching
* interactive activities

There are other pictures in my picture cache. Please use them in your class, if you would like. I would appreciate it if you would cite my name if you use them online.

Enjoy this gorgeous autumn in Kansas! There is no place like home!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Better Schools and Classrooms

We all admire Better Schools and Classrooms. Why? For inspiration, confirmation and professional development because each of us wants a better school and classroom. We're teachers! We're achievers!

In pursuit of this excellent achievement, there is one book, Classroom Instruction that Works, that you can use and make Better Schools and Classrooms. Read it one day and use the ideas in your class with great success the very next day. Many of the ideas may be familiar, yet even the most experienced teacher should find this meta-analysis helpful for improved practice....for Better Schools and Classrooms.

Research in education has been vastly under reported in our American media, even the educational media. To remedy that, many educational research leaders began to perform a particular type of research called meta-analysis. While some research can summarize a single researcher's lifetime of accomplishments, such as Vygotsky, Art Costa or Howard Gardner, meta-analysis is compilation of combined research of many people on ONE TOPIC like the research that encompasses theEffective Schools Research or Classroom Instruction that Works.

While the Effective Schools meta-analyses is more of an umbrella covering a multitude of effective educational methods, categorized within the Seven Correlates of Effective Schools, Classroom Instruction that Works may be considered by some to be a specific category within the Effective Schools movement.

No matter the case, Robert Marzano et al picked an excellent topic and performed a very extensive meta-analysis of educational research that relates to this topic of Classroom Instruction that Works. One of the most appealing qualities of this meta-analysis is that one teacher doesn't have to practice all the instructional strategies to improve their classroom instruction. Each teacher can pick one or more of instructional methodologies that fit in their own toolbox.

Any teacher can improve their own skills by reading this research summary. Entire schools, districts or states can definitely increase student achievement by improving their skills in the practice of the tenets driven by the meta-analytic research of Classroom Instruction that Works.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

"Welcome to My Web!", Said the Spider to the Fly

When teachers find new technology, whether it is hardware or software, evaluation is critical. As a teacher, you want to determine efficacy. Is the new technology efficient, easy to use and accessible? One of my favorite tools in my efficacy evaluation toolbox is the KID TEST.

Here is how the KID TEST works. Put the device or software out where students, or any KID, will see it. See how long it takes them to tell you about it. The faster they find it, use it, and share the new technology the higher the KID TEST score.

As they tell you about it, the KID TEST rank can increase or decrease with their discussions of descriptions and uses the students discover. I always appreciate using the 5 point Leikert scale to document my technology evaluations, including the KID TEST.

Recently, I performed the KID TEST when I found two new widgets that a teaching colleague, Jonelle, was using on her Classroom 2.0 profile page. To me, they looked very unique, so I thought students might like to use them.

To find out if students will like them, I must perform the KID TEST. Before I start the KID TEST, I like to tryout the technology myself. I inserted the two widgets, Weather Pixies and VOKI, in my n2teaching blog. Both of these widgets are informative and interactive. Each has an avatar that you select. The avatar in Weather Pixie is dressed appropriately for the weather in your area in a little scene with the temperature, etc. The VOKI avatar's eyes track the movement of the mouse when it is the vicinity of the widget and it will talk when you click on the PLAY button. This is my public education oriented blog, and I often share information with students here.

To practice the KID TEST, I always use my kid as my practice tester. I placed my widgets online, and I waited. After a few days, my kid, Dena, asked me about one of them. I told her, and that was that. Interesting, appealing, but no immediate knowledge transfer. Probably a 3 on a 5 point Leikert Scale for the KID TEST.

A few days later, we were discussing various bits of code that she has used recently, while I posted a blog entry. When I scrolled down to check out my map widget, I passed over the VOKI widget. Dena asked, "What's that?". I replied, "That's the other widget I discovered on my colleague's profile page." I mentioned that the image I used was the closest I could find to fit me, and she said, "I like it."

We discussed the fine points of VOKI. Dena said, "You can type what you want it to say?" and "Can you use your own voice?", so I told her that both options were possible. She says, "Wow, I like it!"

Then Dena proceeds to tell me that she has been looking for a widget like this, but the only one she found was a talking widget service that costs $19.99 per month.

OK, I know an opportunity when I see one, so, while I was traveling to the VOKI website, I asked if she wanted to see the website. A enthusiastic yes, bumped up the VOKI tech evaluation score, so off we went to the website.

Dena was impressed with the great variability and opportunities to use VOKI.

Try it out, I give VOKI a 5 out of 5 on the initial KID TEST, and I hope you will see all the possible uses a teacher could have for this creatively cool widget.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Technology is Only A Tool!

My existence has changed greatly since access to new technology has improved over the past decades, but I often realize that we cannot lose sight of the real world. Our children must be exposed to the real world and activities that actually produce something that is not ephemeral. For their psychological well-being, they need to connect with the electromagnetism of Earth, and they need to create artifacts, including practical artifacts like food clothing and shelter.

I believe most of us know of the importance of keeping the real world in our thoughts, but we can become so busy using technology that we forget to put those thoughts into action.

I believe that most parents and teachers do not want our children to live in a world where they are helpless, but where they are self-reliant. That is why it is so important TO DO, TO MAKE, TO PRODUCE.

Now I am not suggesting that every child needs to know how to make soap, build a house or fix a motor; I am saying that every child needs to know how to perform small projects like: change the oil in your car, mend your clothes or grow some food.
It seems to me that the virtual has outstripped the real world lately.

I know children do like to do things, make things, and it is very important to provide them with tactile and kinesthetic experiences or they will become out of touch with humanity. Remember The Magic School Bus and Ms. Frizzle's famous line: "Take Chances! Get Messy!"

Periodically, I will highlight one type of real world skill that I know is being neglected, but I believe should be elevated. Today, it is the skill that can also be an art: SEWING!

Sewing is not being taught in the schools across America as much as it was in the past, and young people need all the self reliant skills they can get. This article may be an inspiration to any quilter or quilting guild to start a group for children and teenagers.

Even very young children can learn to handle a needle and thread, especially those plastic ones that are used in large cross stitch patterns, Children, around 8 or 9 can easily learn simple hand sewing, including embroidery. From this age on, responsible children can be supervised with complicated projects and using the sewing machine. Careful supervision is definitely required when rotary cutters are used, and gloves should be considered appropriate safety equipment when cutting.

"Robin Rice guesses the lost art of sewing skips a generation these days.
'I know my own girls. I’m trying to not let that happen,' she said.
She is passing on her knowledge of stitching to her daughters while teaching the craft of creative stitching at Danville Area Community College’s College for Kids program.
She works with three to five young sewers at a time, mostly girls, who are learning the basics this summer." excerpted from The Commercial-News, Danville, IL. "Kids Discover Creative Craft of Sewing", by Anna Herkamp.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Beautiful Posters and Materials for Easy Science

Every year, the Space Weather team at NASA sends out packets of posters, dvd's, lesson plans and other cool stuff to help you the teacher provide excellent, yet interesting lessons about the Sun-Earth relationship.

These materials are some of the most valuable and beautiful resources that I have ever received.

Check them out. I hope you will agree.
Sun-Earth Day 2008: Space Weather Around the World
2007 Desktop Wallpaper
Earth and Sun Tilted
2007 Desktop Wallpaper
Earth and Sun
The Setting of the Sun Over the Pacific Ocean and a Towering Thundercloud, July 21, 2003 As Seen From the International Space Station (Expedition 7);
  • 1600x1024 jpeg (right click, save as)

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    Teaching Friends Introduce Students to the Clipmark World!

    If a teacher could introduce one Web 2.0 tool to help students improve their research skills, I would suggest Clipmarks. I am also inserting part of a review fo Clipmarks by a fellow clipper, Neochonetes:
    Clipmarks adds value to your browsing, browsing, clipping and sharing experience. Being a bookmark and hotlist aficionado, I was curious about ClipMarks. I already had, but I was drawn to the added feature of clipping quotable material.

    I first added Clipmarks in early June, 2007 because it sounded like a great free tool for research. On the fly, I could copy snippets of the article I found important,as well as, properly quote and cite information for later use.

    ...[I]mmediately [I] could see the potential value for students researching a topic on the internet. When they found an article, they could clip it, store it online, and use it later for their research. I thought it would be especially helpful for teachers who ask students to find Current Event articles in their study area.

    What I didn't know was that Clipmarks is a very powerful add-on program. You can clip snippets, pictures and save them to your online file. Also, you can tag your article in or magnolia. Your comments, are yours, they belong to you, so you can use them later in your research. Another striking feature is the ability to send your clipmark to your blog(there are several) or get code to embed in blogs, like MySpace, that are not supported. There are a vast array of other extras available in Clipmarks that you will want to use.

    All your Clipmarks can be private, but by making your clips public, you have the added benefit of community. There is a community of "clippers" who can pop your clipmarks. The pop is a way to acknowledge your clip as interesting or important. They add your clip to their database...with credit to you. Also, people can comment on a public clip. Many times, clippers have led me to other similar articles.

    Clipmarks is a wonderful online tool, with a tiny icon(w/dropdown menu) and a great community that is more agile and responsive than Digg!

    You can lock in redundant bookmarking to, so I think everyone should add-on ClipMarks....

    Did I mention that I love Clipmarks, and I am reviewing it after using it for several months? Yeah! It's true.

    clipped from
    All Clippers
    sortMy Clippers

    Serendipitous discovery...
    surprise me!


    People all over the world clipping
    the best parts of web pages

    All Clippers
    Why I Use Clipmarks...
    "Clipmarks is an easy less time consuming way for me to organize news articles and web sites to share with friends and family." - sherrymac12

    My Clippers

    Pick your favorite
    clippers to find the best
    bits of the web for you

    Start Clipping

    Clip the best parts of web pages. Create your own searchable library of clips, Clip-to-Blog, Clip-to-Email and more...
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    Friday, November 2, 2007

    Ally Carter, Ag Economist to Full-Time Author

    Every high school and college librarian, Reading and English teacher should discover Ally Carter, if you are looking for good YA and adult novels for pleasurable reading.

    This is excerpted from the comments that I made to the NY Times bestselling author, Ally Carter (yes, I DO know her real name and occupation....) on her blog ally's diary.

    Last Spring, I had the pleasure of listening to your presentation for the Spring 2007 FCE Recognition Banquet in Girard, KS. I was very impressed, even though my preferred genre is Science Fiction, [your] story lines sounded interesting enough to read.

    Fast forward[ing] to the beginning of the school year in Erie, daughter brought home your first book, Cheating at Solitaire....[H]er 10th grade English teacher, Miss Olivia S., suggested that Dena would enjoy your writing. Hold on to your copy Miss S,'cause it's out of stock at B&N.

    She brought the book home, and I told her that I had heard you talk about your books, writing and other topics. She acted interested at least. LOL!

    Well, a few days went by, and I thought...another one bites the dust....she is sooooo picky! Trying to put a positive spin on the situation(and using my best motherly psychological weapons LOL)I asked her if she was finished reading Cheating at Solitaire. She shocked me by saying, "Almost, I've read about 2/3 it!"

    Before she took it back to school, I read Cheating at Solitaire, and I laughed quite a bit. It was a good read. So you have 2 new fans.

    My daughter read two of your books this fall. She says she likes Cheating at Solitaire best, but she enjoyed reading I'd tell you I love you, but then I'd have to kill you of The Gallagher Girl books.

    Keep up the good work. Have lots of fun working as a full-time author! WooHoo!

    Just heard Thursday, 11/1/07, at our Fall SEK FCE area meeting that you would be leaving your economist position. I guess you CAN keep a secret in SEK. LOL

    Cover image .jpg file taken from

    Thursday, November 1, 2007

    6 +1 Traits of Writing Still Rule

    Last night at TappedIN, I signed in to attend a Middle School prof development group, and our presenter was discussing writing and teaching writing.

    Ever on my toes, until I land on my face LOL, I discussed one of my favorite topics the 6 Traits of Writing. I will explain more, but there are some links on my site. For those in the choir, would you share a comment?

    On my way to a county-wide FCE meeting to learn more about possible lessons for the next year. This is one of my favorite meetings.

    Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    Weather Pixies for Kids and Adults

    On my Classroom 2.0 .ning network, one of my colleagues had this cool little widget called Weather Pixie. It is a little widget with a weather person who tells the weather for your area. You can select an individualized weather person with a variety of clothing types and hair color. There are about 30 choices.

    This would be an excellent active desk add on for young students. They can learn about the weather and what they should wear. I was very impressed that the clothing on the weather person changes with the weather.

    Also, the background changes from day to night as it really is where you are.

    Personally, I think people of all ages will like Weather Pixies, but teachers and parents can definitely get it "for their kids and students". LOL! Yes, I am getting this Weather Pixie for my daughter.

    The WeatherPixie

    Friday, October 26, 2007

    I Still Don't Get It! What's Your Sign?

    Even after all these years in Teaching, I am still shocked and amazed that teachers, who should be the BEST interpreters of all, still can't understand the reality the choose to visit, share or advise.

    The lack of critical thinking skills among those who profess to be on the forefront of their teaching field boggles the mind. I will admit, I do recover faster than I used to when I was younger, after a surreal encounter with these characters. Most times, I don't try anymore to explain to these people they are walking down a blind alley. Let them be blissfully ignorant. LOL! Those who cannot see.....

    If I wasn't a teacher, with a strong background in successful collaboration, I don't think I could bear to know that there are teachers in our schools, especially our universities, who can't think their way out of a paper bag. LOL, Yes, I know I wouldn't be able to stomach it. LOL No wonder the public talks about teachers like they do.

    It is my contention that a truly valuable lesson can be learned or refreshed here, by inexperienced, as well as experienced teachers. Humility and courtesy can improve thinking skills through cooperative learning, interpretive skills and true collaboration.

    Here is the story:
    A new member, I will name Done, joined one of the interactive educational social networks where I am a member. Done immediately came online, starting a redundant discussion topic. I see this kind of New Bee all the time and usually avoid these people.

    This is their most insidious trait. Dones elicit the caretaker response in rational people who want to help them avoid embarrassment. That is WRONG. They are not capable of experiencing embarrassment. LOL

    Done vehemently asserted that Done's proposed project was a unique revelation. It was nothing like the one several people mentioned. Done's position was laughable, so laughable it was sad. That is probably the source of my feelings of frustration. If Done can't figure out (interpret) what we are saying, how can Done teach? Don't these Done teachers have to understand and interact with people in the act of teaching?

    It has been my experience that these heraldic New Bees are people who will not do a search to discover what is already going on in a network. They are going "a viking" to gather booty for themselves. What's up with that? Isn't that antithetical to the psyche of the teacher?

    I think this lack of critical thinkings skills and ability to work in collaborative groups is a major problem. Frighteningly, teachers who have this problem don't even recognize it.

    For those of you who are trying to understand and interpret your environment, teaching effectively within it, here are some traits of egocentrism that you can recognize. Steer clear of these people.

    1. The kid is their favorite character in the book The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

    2. Join my group invites w/o reciprocating. A rampant network problem.

    3. Take primary sources and spin them to other networks as their own.

    4. First adopters without a clue. Think about the kid who just has to have a new pet, but gets tired of it after a few weeks....same concept....They are fickle, and they can't think straight.

    5. Can't plan in a holistic manner. All planning revolves around them. If you fit in, fine. If you don't, fine.

    I believe these are the teachers who have given us all the poor reputation for teaching content that is a mile wide and an inch deep.

    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    Squeak VM - SmallTalk

    Squeak Virtual Machine is part of the Squeak constellation. Because it is written in Slang, a subset of Smalltalk which can be translated into C language, SqueakVM can edited and debugged within Squeak. Check out Squeak, and download it to your computer. It is a cool, simple to use object oriented program that kids can use to program or build virtual worlds. Use it on any platform. It was created by the MIT team and it is related to Logo.
    clipped from

    The Squeak Virtual Machine broadly follows the specification of chapter 27 of the Blue Book, which is available at

    Squeak virtual machine can be edited and debugged by running it in Squeak itself. The picture below shows Squeak within Squeak
    written in Slang
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    Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    The Quality School

    When I saw a related clip of the "The 7 Habits of Truly Miserable People", I had to clip another of Dr. Glasser's books, The Quality School . One of my favorite books. Dr. Glasser tells a great story where he teaches practical, yet effective ways to treat yourself and others with respect.
    His ideas about education and schools have developed a group of schools that follow his philosophies. It's good for learning and for emotional health of children, students, and the entire education community.

    Shows that traditional coercive management in schools is the root of today's educational problems.

    This should be required reading by every school administrator, every teacher, every board member and all university faculty involved in the training of teachers.


    William Glasser, M.D., is a world-renowned psychiatrist who lectures widely. An author of many books, including Choice Theory, Reality Therapy, The Quality School, and Getting Together and Staying Together, he is the president of the William Glasser Institute in Los Angeles.

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    Jan Brett and Dena

    What a weekend! What a week! Lots of stories to tell...good stories. Caught up with many old friends, mentors and acquaintances.
    Just returned from a whirlwind trip to Wichita, KS to see Jan Brett with Dena. Oh yes, also to shop! LOL
    More to follow, but I wanted to post at least one picture of our fantastic weekend.

    Saturday, October 20, 2007

    So Many Stories, So Little Time

    You know those times when you are so busy with cool stuff that you can't stop to share? Well, I'm having that week now.

    Today I'm traveling to Wichita to see Jan Brett. Watermark Books is sponsoring a author presentation and a book signing party afterward. There will be so many people Wathermark Books will have her presentation at East High School on Sunday, October 21, 2007.

    I will have plenty of time next week to tell all about the trip to my alma mater, professional development, and trips to see children's author with a following like a rock star.

    Weekends are wonderful, I am going out and have a great one.

    Wednesday, October 17, 2007

    Thanks, Dr. Bebb!!

    PittState is my alma mater. This wonderful university became my college home, a kid from the desert plopped down in the Great Plains, by circumstance not of my own making. Kansas State Teachers College of Pittsburg in Pittsburg is now known as Pittsburg State University, PittState.

    Today is a day of thankfulness. First, thanks to Dr. Bebb for helping me make a decision that transformed my life in the most exceptional way. Dr. Bebb talked about the KSTCP Education Department in such a way, I knew I had found a philosophical home. I wanted to be a part of this group. I wanted to learn from these professors to become an exceptional teacher and friend to education's and their parents. Hughes Hall, home of the Education Department at Pittstate still looks the same as when I attended classes there the first time.

    Now, Pittsburg State University Education Department still upholds those philosophies that drew me into the fold of generations of teachers graduating from this excellent university. Thanks to my alma mater for maintaining traditions while growing into the future world of education.

    Today, I visited my advisor for my Master's of Science in Curriculum, Dr. Kent Runyan. He is the professor who helped me traverse the graduate program with ease. My most valuable class for me, personally, during this masters program was the class called Trends and Issues. I learned so much that I never knew and didn't learn anywhere else. Every teacher that I have known who took this class has agreed. Thanks, Dr. Runyan.

    Today, there were visits to the Instructional Resource Center, headed by Michelle Hudiburg, the Axe library and the VISITORS Parking Lot that is still located 1/4 mile from the Administration Building. It is next to the football field. Pittstate has a great football field.

    Thank you to all.