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 del.icio.us 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 www.squeak.org

The Squeak Virtual Machine broadly follows the specification of chapter 27 of the Blue Book, which is available at http://users.ipa.net/~dwighth/smalltalk/bluebook/bluebook_chapter27.html.

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 partners....kids 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.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Momentous Monarch Migration

Monarch Migrations are momentous events, all in all, but when there are profoundly enormous groups of Monarch butterflies making landfall near human populations, it is news. These are rare events.

Many people frequently see small groups of 100 or less during the migration events, but very few people site large groups of Monarchs. These large Monarch groups are usually seen where special conditions of food,shelter, water and weather come together to make an inviting stopover.

There are Monarch observers, in SE Kansas, who have hosted migration groups, numbering in the thousands on their land. The Monarchs usually roost in fields with flowers, cedar trees and ponds(streams or lakes),creating shelter. Having personally seen migration groups in the thousands at Wilson County State Lake,KS and at surrounding farms on different occasions over the past 20 years, I can vouch for these wondrous migrations.

Last week, Richard Hines, a Monarch Watch supporter, reported a Monarch migration cohort that will set records for many years. Richard enjoys the Monarch Migrations with his family. He recognizes the need for Monarch butterfly habitat, and he encourages these habitats by maintaining a Monarch Watch Waystation.

Mary Hines, a secondary Journalism, Yearbook and English teacher, takes excellent digital images, photographs, of the Monarchs and their migration. She was kind enough to share all the pictures used here.

A lucky farmer with 450 acres of blooming sunflowers in Southeast Kansas, near the Neosho River,west of Erie, KS, played host to what Dr. Chip Taylor, entomology professor at the University of Kansas and the Director of Monarch Watch described as a rare event for this area.
Dr. Taylor, enthusiastically reported this rare mass migration event to the folks at JourneyNorth,

Why So Rare?
Dr. Taylor explained: "The monarchs had been attracted to a sunflower field that was in full bloom....The 450 acre field had been planted late in the season, after the first crop was flooded out in early June. It is rare to have commercial sunflowers blooming this late in the season so the expectation of seeing such an aggregation at this time of year again is low."

View Larger Map

Estimating the total number in a Monarch roost is difficult, but considering a most conservative number of monarchs per square yard of the 450 acres of sunflowers and the bordering trees that were covering them, Dr. Taylor suspects the number could be 200,000 Monarchs.

That is the conservative estimate considering that there is only one monarch per 10 square yards, in this estimate. The pictures taken at the rural Erie,KS site indicate that the roost size (monarch population in the field, trees and other roosting areas) was closer to 1 Monarch butterfly per 1 square yard. You do the math! A number in the millions overwhelms the mind.

Taking the more conservative number of 200,000 Monarchs during this siting, the Erie, KS roost size is double the previous record-setting Monarch roost observation in SE Arkansas last year, in October of 2006.

It is important to note that the work of ordinary Canadians, Americans, and Mexicans, along with their scholars, teachers, nature lovers and other leaders have made it possible for the Monarch butterflies to continue to migrate. They still travel to and from Mexico and Canada, through America each year.

Since various conditions impact the Monarch butterfly, these Monarch Watchers consider and work to minimize activities that often cause ecological crises in Mexico and the United States of America

In the past, some of these deforestation and habitat loss events have put the Monarch, as a species, at risk, but there are dedicated Monarch enthusiasts, including multitudes of students in the three countries, as well as the world, who help intervene to solve these ecological issues before they destroy the Monarchs. It is very awe-inspiring. You too can answer this call to action and enjoy the Monarch Migration.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

High Technology

Using IR satellite technology, you can read this map and determine where the rain will occur. Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites tracking the cold and high cloud data from GOES.

This infrared satellite map of the Central Plains in the United States is very helpful for teachers and students studying practical meteorological tools that any person can access.

Why go to the untrained TV/Radio news reader when you can learn all about the weather and its forecasting yourself?

I love technology, especially technology that sent us to the moon.
clipped from www.goes.noaa.gov

noaa logoGOES Eastern US SECTOR Infrared Image

Meteorologists use color enhanced imagery as an aid in satellite interpretation. The colors enable them to easily and quickly see features which are of special interest. Usually they look for high clouds or areas with a large amount of water vapor.
infrared (IR) image cold clouds are high clouds
bar on the right side of the image indicates the pixel brightness values for the corresponding color
temperature can be determined from the following formulas:
current color enhanced goes east infrared image
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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Captain Kangaroo and Me!

Most people think that the time when they grew up was the best of all times, and I am no exception to that truism. I grew up with Captain Kangaroo, Mr. Greenjeans, andShari Lewis who interacted with me through the cutting age media of the time, the television. Yes, I loved the TV, but not as much as I loved books, especially those recommended by these TV friends. Because of them, I can truly say that my first love in education is the book.

I am particularly indebted to Captain Kangaroo and Magic Drawing Board for helping me develop a yearning for good books. Each day, the Captain would tell a story, from a picture book, with the help of the Magic Drawing Board. You could say that the Magic Drawing Board was the precursor of the interactive white board. Now we all can have our own Magic Drawing Board, but that is another story.

One of my favorite stories was the American picture book classic, Make Way For Ducklings, written by Robert McCloskey. This book was a Caldecott Winner. An award given, through the American Library Association, for books with the best illustrations and interaction within their story.

Make Way For Ducklings was illustrated using sepia tones, so its beauty and desirability remain timeless for the art and the story. Every child should read Make Way For Ducklings because every child wants to know that the world can be generous and so can the people in it. Plus you get to fly around New York!

This picture book, Make Way for Ducklings, can be used for recreational reading, but there are themes in the book that lend it to use in various units or projects that a teacher may be developing. There are science, social studies, and character related theme. I would suggest that you need to read this book for yourself to learn first hand what it's fine points are. You will never go wrong reading and teaching Make Way For Ducklings.

You might even be able to work out some related lessons on the Magic Drawing Board. OOOooops, I mean.....interactive white board.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Where's the WiFi?

This is an excellent idea, and I think it would make a great Christmas present for your favorite tech diva, geek or Queen of E.

This cool t-shirt review was clipped from a great tech blog called, jkOn TheRun - Using Mobile Devices Since they Weighed 30 lbs. and is written by James Kendrick and Kevin Tofel.


Hey who needs to carry around a WiFi detector when they can just wear one instead? For $30, you won't need the WiFi detector, you'll BE the WiFi detector. This T-Shirt has a animated, removable decal on the front that lights up when it finds a 802.11 b/g network and the bars on the side light up to indicated the signal strength. You wouldn't want to cover that up with a jacket, now would you?

Three AAA batteries used to power the shirt sit in hidden, sewn-in pockets. Even though the shirt is 100% cotton, you can wash it in warm water and not have your WiFi range shrink. The shirt is a different story.

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Still on the Road

I am still on the road, and I will return home from Topeka tomorrow, Friday, October 5, 2007. Today's posting will be short, and I have nothing but good news to report. I have completed the entire teacher licensure renewal process on the 230 professional development points I earned in the last two years that I taught at USD #259, Wichita, KS.

So, what can I say, it is wonderful. The Wichita Public Schools educational system is one organized, professional student-centered school district. Wednesday, October 3, 2007, when I arrived at the school district offices where they take care of teachers' professional development transcripts, all my documents were ready. My professional development points transcript was printed, signed, and placed in a sealed envelope ready for me to carry to Topeka.

When I arrived in Topeka, I went to the KSDE office. I turned in my application for renewal and all the supporting documentation. The specialists there were very helpful. More details to follow later.

If you want to be the very best teacher possible, work hard, be supported, and change children's lives, you should consider teaching in Wichita, KS.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

RoadTrip Through Kansas

On the road to Wichita, KS. Then I will travel to Topeka, KS. Need professional development point transcript from Wichita Public Schools, USD#259. Must turn this transcript in with my licensure update application and, of course, a $36.00 fee. When I first started teaching in KS, the certification application fee was $5.00 dollars. What can I say? A lot of water passed under this bridge.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Certificate to License

One thing I have always been known for is covering all my bases, I don't like surprises or life blips. Frequently, I am very happy that I am sometimes overtly conscientious in my work habits and my professional development practices. It is paying off now, as I recertify my teaching credentials.

In 2003, this state changed its laws covering the certification of teachers to teach. Now we become licensed instead of certified. It is probably more than a matter of semantics, but the result is the same. If you have a teacher's license, you can teach in this state. Since I am renewing my certificate, I will now receive a teacher's license.

To renew a teaching certificate in this state, you must have acquired some new knowledge or training in your field, this is also true in other fields such as nursing. There are two ways to document this training or learning in our teaching field, to say that we have received appropriate professional development to help us keep up-to-date in technology, pedagogy, or content knowledge.

The two ways to prove appropriate learning are through college course credits or professional development credits. College credits are pretty straightforward, you must take upper level or graduate classes that are related to your field of expertise or in teaching. The professional development credits are more precisely related to education and knowledge enrichment. These are received through very specialized training in your area of expertise, technology, or specific professional development needs required by the district where you teach. Often, the professional development credits are received through more rigorous, specialized education than you get in a college class.

Since I love to teach and learn, I really enjoy taking college classes and gaining professional development credits. Both require much effort and time to successfully complete, but I have always believed it is worth the effort. It always benefits my students and my work in the classroom. I believe that my mind must be pushed to achieve throughout my lifetime, so I can maintain an interest and excitement in my career.

I took 6 hours of graduate course work 2003, and I completed 255 hours of professional development credits in the urban school district where I taught within the time frame of 2002 to 2004. Every 20 hours of professional development is equal to 1 credit hour of college credit, so I completed the equivalent of 12.5 hours of college credit within a 2 year period. This included many Saturdays, summers, and after school sessions, spent learning and increasing my knowledge base in Technology, Science and Math, I loved every minute of it, and my students received the benefit right away.

With more than 3 times the number of official credits needed to recertify, I will be completing my licensure process tomorrow. I look forward to continuing work in my chosen career.