Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Consells Medi Ambient

 Consells Medi Ambient) by Lari y Gafa; for EFL/ESL - also for science & environment; PSA funny!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Simon Brown shared September launch of GeoEye satellite at Vandeburg, California, USA. Now see their Christmas greeting: http://ping.fm/yD56t

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Interpreting the PLN

Photo by Sue Waters
Attribution-ShareAlike License

This wikispace, Franklinville: PLN, devoted to understanding the emergence of the Professional Learning Netowrk and its intersection with available web2.0 applications presents a unique perspective that others could easily use or modify for their own discussions. The authors, Tim Clarke and his colleague, Rick Weinberg, have a remarkable repertoire of materials.

Included on the wiki is an excellent video w/a Charles Leadbeater discussion of many of the aspects of various tools and links to those that we can employ to improve our best practice. He also discusses the similarity of thes 21st Century Professional Learning Networks with older more traditional networks.

Monday, November 17, 2008

3 Ways to WORDLE Share

Interested in learning more or sharing your WORDLES? Now, you can access the Diigo WORDLE Group.

Haven't used Diigo, the social bookmarking site? Now would be a great time to join.

While you're at it, consider joining the Diigo for Educators site that is protected, so you can use it with your students.

Here are webslide show of many of our group's bookmarks, to date.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Many Eyes on Bullying

Many Eyes is an IBM web application that people can use to visualize their data in unique ways. WORDLE is a part of this Many Eyes Project. Here is a sample of real data from a study by Ken Rigby, an associate professor of social psychology at the University of South Australia on Reasons Children Give for Bullying Others.

Monday, November 10, 2008

WORDLE: A Practical Application

WORDLE has a function that allows users to submit any del.icio.us user name to make a non-linguistic representation of bookmark tags. You can analyze the use of various tags within your bookmarks and look for areas of great emphasis, synonymous tags or areas of little emphasis. Each of these areas of analysis can drive future teaching and writing related to your professional development plan and the school's curriculum map.

I created my delicious WORDLE that could be used formative assessment, summative assessment or self-assessment by analyzing this snapshot from November 10, 2007 of n2teaching delicious bookmarks

Here is another version of the same set of bookmarks on the same day that contains more words. Controlling the number of total words is an aspect of WORDLE that you can change within the layout function. Hopefully, these ideas will lead you to think of more ways to use WORDLE as an interactive tool, not just a toy.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

3 Reasons to ZAP Homework Blues

Photo by ms4jah
Attribution-NonCommercial License
One of the tenets of a Quality School is to encourage students' confidence in making choices that promote quality participation in school, I would suggest that ZAP, Zeroes Aren't Permitted, has the potential to help a school community accomplish this.

Students are encouraged to take ownership of their learning when they participate in ZAP when they learn to complete their homework. Once they organize their work process, students usually turn in most homework, completed in a timely manner.

ZAP is a process used in many schools, since the last century, to encourage homework completion that can, with the help of parents, teachers and other significant adults improve student's work completion skills. These are 3 primary expectations of a well developed ZAP program.

* Encourage student to improve work habits

1. students have opportunity to finish homework
2. students will receive one-on-one collaboration
3. major stakeholders are included in the collaboration
4. students will receive training on how to complete homework

* Involve parent in the conversation

1. share the visiion of the positive impact of ZAP
2. encourage parents to ask questions before beginning
3. explain the process
4. obtain buy-in or agreement to participate
5. expect follow through at home

* Use a collaborative, measured, well documented program

1. stakeholders follow the plan
2. teachers and parents help student have opportunities for best choices, based
on student performance in work completion
3. students understand that work completion gains positive feedback
4. ZAP program is ended when appropriate choices about work completion are made
over time

As you learn more about the Quality School Teacher, using the best instructional strategies and developing a positive student learning plan based on these ideas, you will see fewer behavioral and academic problems.

Remember, ZAP, Zeroes Aren't Permitted, is ONE tool, from a vast Teacher Tool Box. It was never meant to be used in a punitive manner.

The supportive idea behind ZAP, and similar tools, is that students make choices that can improve their quality of life. When a child's quality of life and learning improves, they will trust their teachers, parents and the rest of their community to have their best interests in mind in future educational adventures.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Jellywashers: Endangered Breed

When someone roots for you or compliments you, how does that make you feel? Great, comfortable, proud or uncomfortable? or something else?

It seems to me that many people feel uncomfortable, even angry around people who give appropriate comments or work to boost morale.

These people are called JellyWashers. Why? Because they will tell you when you have jelly (real and metaphorical) on your face when no one else will. They will compliment you. They will support you. They will trust you. THEY WILL BELIEVE.

Photo by Ɓukasz Strachanowski
Attribution-NonCommercial License

They have expectations that others are jellywashers, but that is so far from the truth. Jellywashers are a rare, endangered group. So how do these grown-ups do it? How do they live in a world where people are often working against their own best interests on a regular basis?

It seems to me that JellyWashers are a rare, endangered variety in our species who need to be celebrated, not denigrated. They can do something few others can do. They can suspend cynicism and develop learned naivete'...imagination that the world can be a better place by encouraging others with appropriate comments to help enlighten and improve their daily life.

Do you know any of these people? How do you treat them? Do you shake your head? Do they embarrass you? Do you celebrate them? Do you join them?

Think about YOUR attitude and ask questions before you assume that Jellywashers are naive pawns who remain ignorant of a world where bad things happen. They are not. They are the people who are able to overcome diversity to push on through the dark world to encourage the rest of us to push on also.

Jellywashers CHOOSE to live in a world of positive ethos. They CHOOSE to work to improve their own life, so they can help others wash the clay from their eyes. Jellywashers choose to help fellow humans see themselves and others as worthy of respect and care. Thank goodness for the jellywashers of the world. What ethical behaviors can you CHOOSE today?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Warriors to End Poverty

Photo by carf
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License
Over the years, many people have influenced the way I think about poverty and react to those in poverty. I think of these people as Warriors to End Poverty, because they must go against the never-ending myths that perpetuate poverty.

One of these myths is that those in poverty deserve their lot. That somehow through their own devices these people have caused their own poverty. One Warrior to End Poverty who fought this myth was Jane Addams, the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. She addressed this myth in her speech entitled, A New Conscience and an Ancient Evil where she discusses the ancient evil of slavery of women through ancient, slave rules of forced marriages, rape and forced prostitution...what we would call HUMAN TRAFFICKING today.

During Jane Addams' lifetime, these evil acts were blamed on the woman and her offspring of these heinous acts were treated with disrespect also. Is this situation any better today? Look around and "...be the change you want to see in the world..." (Ghandi). Help where you can. One of the most important ways to help is to protect women by making sure their privacy and rights are as well protected and respected as those of all other humans.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Blog Action Day Returns in 2008

It is that time of year again. Blog Action Day Returns in 2008 with a new topic but the same mission. Have as many people around the world post their blog on a single topic on a single day. If you have never participated in Blog Action Day, this is your year to begin. If you have already participated, this is the year to continue. The topic of Blog Action Day 2008 is Poverty. Will you talk about how rampant it is? How we can eliminate it? Groups and programs that are successfully working to eliminate poverty? You decide and write your blog post on Poverty for Blog Action Day 2008 on October 15, 2008. Click on this badge to go to the Blog Action Day website and register your blog right now. Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Graphic Organizers Revealed

Photo by Kaptain Kobold
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License
When you SEE objects in your mind, do you sort them by their characteristics? by color or shape or size? OR Do you sort them in groups?

When you do this, you are VISUALIZING a graphic organizer that you can create in the World of Matter. The best graphic organizers are those that spring up organically in the course of working. The words and phrases can be organized as you think about them when the need arrives. You can put "stuff" together or to separate "stuff".

While there are many types of graphic organizers, the most common is probably the simplest to use. It is the T-Chart. Not only is it easy to use, it is also extremely effective in a wide range of applications, from brainstorming to assessment.

The T-Chart is a binary checklist, but it also has an advantage of providing data to develop questions that can guide the learner and teacher in more effective learning opportunities. Because of this characteristic, it is a great organizer.

What we know about graphic organizers, in general, ranks them, among instructional strategies, the best, most effective, and easy to implement in real world situations. In the seminal meta-analysis of learning strategies, Classroom Instruction That Works: Research Based Instructional Strategies, Dr. Robert Marzano, et al, dedicate an entire chapter to Graphic Organizers. They discuss the data, the instructional strategy and what implementation looks like in the classroom.

While the T-chart can be helpful in many areas, there is a use that relates to just-in-time learning and teaching which must happen at various moments in any form of constructivist paradigm, including project based learning. For instance, an important part of project is working as a team. If the team doesn't function well, the project will not meet expectations of the team or the supervisor/advisor.

Here is how a T-Chart can help. First ask team members questions...not too many questions, but questions like:
1. What does a team look like?
2. What does a team sound like?
Let each make lists, then join the lists in a brainstorming session USING THE T-CHART...remember...no judging or eliminating anyone's ideas.

Once the ideas are listed on the T-chart in the TWO categories, let each team member have an opportunity to explain or defend their ideas. Some may decide that their idea is similar to another. All team members will listen to each explanation, before they say anything negative or positive.

The team may think of other ideas while they are in discussion mode. When they are finished, the supervisor/advisor asks, "Do you see these ideas being implemented by your team? If not, how could you help to make your team look and sound more like the ideas discussed today?

If the team members aren't sure how they might help make the ideas come true, use another graphic organizer to plan how the team can fit their ideal.

Here is the point where the team interactions may dissolve into individual actions and distractions. Stop the conversation. Let them each take home a copy of the completed T-chart. Encourage them to think how can we (they) as a team can implement these ideas. Encourage them to get feedback from their part of the community (parents, siblings, friends, etc).

The next day, work through the process again. If this doesn't work, then "direct instruction" strategies must be put into play. For instance, advisor/supervisor will state: "Our teams WILL look like this". "Our teams WILL sound like this". "Here are the activities that must occur to make these ideas work". Then the team members will study this T-Chart and implement the ideas in their team interactions to be evaluated daily, using a rubric with goals developed from the T-Chart.

T-Charts are simple. T-Charts are cool. T-Charts are effective. Let's all use T-Charts.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My Plurkadian Tag Cloud: Part 2

This screenshot is part 2 of my Plurkadian tag cloud. I am really still looking for an rss feed. Another aspect of this second part of my tag cloud, is that I noticed that some words are topics that I am against, not just what I am for...this is my story.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My Plurkadian Tag Cloud

Plurk is a microblogging social network that my PLN, Professional Learning Network, uses to collaborate in real time and asynchronously.

A wonderful new feature, is the Plurkadian Tag Cloud. These are very interesting.

I can't wait until there is an rss feed for these Plurkadian analytics.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Say It Ain't So Joe!

Have you ever read an article that really hits a chord of dissonance in your brain? You can't forget it. It is like a car wreck, you want to look away, but you can't. Well, today I read just such a post, written by Mr. Robbo, entitled Are You Engaging Your Children?

One of the poignant, yet (in some cases) true statements was the one I wanted to look away from the most,

I also find it funny that teachers will boast about being computer illiterate, thinking that it will absolve them of any responsibility for not including technology in their classes. I bet these same people would not admit being unable to read or write, but as we move into the future being computer illiterate will also become shameful and embarrassing. To put it simply, future schools will not employ those who don't use technology in their classes and even if they do, the students wont listen.

Are you computer illiterate? Do you need to move into the 21st Century? Is this video a metaphor for what technology looks in your class?

Your school, your community and your colleagues must step up to the plate and work with everyone to develop professional development opportunities to encourage the use of the fantastic tools of interactive online living.

Look for help wherever you can find it and make a "see change" in your professional practice.

Please insist that your school provide appropriate professional development, appropriate working technology and help you move into the 21st Century. You will enhance your professional skills, while your students will experience a quantum leap in their real world education in the 21st Century.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Who I Am: a Reflection of Who I've Been

Photo by lionelbodilis
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License
Each semester, Cyndi Danner-Kuhn starts a new .ning network, Kansas Future Teachers for her educational technology students. She is very collaborative and innovative in her work, and I am glad to help by sharing my teaching and learning experiences with these pre-service teachers at Fort Hayes State University. I have included a copy of my introduction essay for this semester's students.

If you are reading this, you are, most likely, part of my PLN (professional learning network). I would like to invite you to join us and share your expertise.

Remember the saying, "What Goes Around Comes Around?" As the years go by, ...that saying [will] reveal itself in action more and more. This an opportunity to put into practice what we call scaffolding, or the spiral of knowledge that Vygotsky suggested in his theoretical studies of learning. As a life-long learner, I have used that spiraling ...[visualization of learning] to make connections in my education, teaching career and life.

Since I began teaching in 1975, I have learned, taught and experienced a multitude of theories, trends and issues as they appear, disappear and reappear.

One thing that I can say with certainty is that my professional teaching life has been healthier and happier when I "go with the flow", when I
* see an opportunity for professional growth in NEW THEORIES that are really old wine wrapped in a new flask
* understand that bad situations make sad communities and you just have to "walk away", kick the dust off your sandals and never look back.

I am healthy and happily working online, building my Professional Learning Network (PLN) and providing professional development resources "...in service to the community".

Having taught many grade and subject levels from Kindergarten to college level students, I enjoy teaching. My areas of expertise began with Microbiology, then elementary, then high school and later, special education K-12. My resume' is quite extensive, yet I have had the privilege to learn, grow, and work with many teachers, parents and other community members who were even more insightful, knowledgeable and collaborative. My career has taken me from the forested region across Lake Ponchetrain in Louisiana to the desert plains of the Llano Estacado in Southeastern New Mexico to continue here in Kansas.

Through living the life of a teacher's child, I always sought the camraderie and professional advice of those who were the most experienced at the schools where I taught. I still do that, yet it is a bit more difficult now because I am frequently the "grand dame" of the school.

Of course, in teaching, it's all about the kids, but you MUST take care of yourself. You must be healthy and happy. If you aren't, if you keep your "nose to the grindstone, you will end up with no nose!" You will become worn out...you will be unable to accept change....you will not GROW as a teacher.

The take-away message here is to remember that you are part of a TEAM of people, including students, parents, teachers, and the larger community of learners. It is my belief that you will be a better teacher when you work in a collaborative, not competitive environment where people's self esteem comes from providing for students, not gathering accolades for all the "stuff" you belong to or control. When you and your community are really teaching and learning, the accolades will follow.

If you have decided to become a teacher, you know you won't make much money, you know you will work long hours and you know that you must live a tightly controlled life, BUT THIS IS ALL WORTH IT, iff you have the OPPORTUNITY to teach kids who learn and develop in your care. That's right! Your care, your guidance, your teaching is the key! That is what it is all about! The pure joy of watching children of various ages and stages learn and grow as you teach.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Who I Am in the Here and Now

Who I Am w/caption
Originally uploaded by n2teaching
This is the mosaic I developed from various pictures from my area and life to share in @bookjewel's excellent idea to help promote and share our PLN (professional learning network) as she detailed in her latest post, ‘PLN Reflections’: sharing ideas and building relationships.

Each person from our PLN who volunteered to share in this presentation, added a slide to a Google presentation file. I selected one of Mahatma Ghandi's inspriational quotes.

Take charge of what you can do to change your world. There is so much potential for professional development and in teaching students in this wonderful project idea. Thanks to @bookjewel.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Vision of Innovation

Photo by Alex // Berlin (away for 3days)
Attribution-ShareAlike License
Encouraging students to use their youthful strength, the plasticity of their brain function to create or innovate is the passion of Toshiba in partnership with the National Science Teachers Association. To fulfill their passion, they created the ExploraVision Award.

When NSTA and Toshiba think of creativity and innovation, they refer to innovation in future technology, and that includes all areas of life. From previous discussions, you may think about Who is a Science Teacher? Students can pursue creative thinking through purposeful, structured means, such as lateral thinking, or they may have a unique idea, a brainstorm, that could change how some common object is used. Their creative thinking may be more unstructured and it could create a totally new process or product. Either way, students can be encouraged to explain and share their ideas for an opportunity to earn scholarships for themselves and technology for their school.

Encourage teachers to help students participate in Toshiba/NSTA's ExploraVision opportunity. Whether they win an ExploraVision award or not, they will learn to collaborate, explain and enjoy the process of creative thinking. Can you help?

Create and Innovate

Photo by denis collette
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License
What does it mean to create and innovate? While there may be nuanced differences among authorities, the main meanings refer to tandem processes of invention or creation and introduction or innovation of new ideas, processes or things.

In referencing the Cambridge Dictionaries Advanced Learning dictionary, one can define these terms in this way: 1. create: "to make something new, especially to invent something", and 2. innovate: to introduce changes and new ideas.

The Business Dictionary describes the process of creation or innovation within the context of creative thinking as:
looking at problems or situations from a fresh perspective that suggests unorthodox solutions (which may look unsettling at first).
The authors describe thinking processes by which people create or innovate, including unstructured thinking processes such as brainstorming and structured thinking that would include lateral thinking.

These business definitions are closely aligned with those educators think of when using or describing the higher order thinking skills of critical or creative thinking processes. The most famous of these would be Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Tapestry for Learning

Over the years, many teachers have dreamed of implementing their ideas within their classroom, grade or school. These teachers often need money for materials, technology and other resources, so they search for assistance. Many have received Toyota Tapestry Grants for Science Teachers. Remember, who is a Science Teacher?

The Toyota Tapestry Grant is the largest of its kind in the United States, and they award mini-grants of $2,000 and larger grants of $10,000. to K-12 Science Teachers in the United States.

The three categories in which grants will be awarded are:

  1. Environmental Science Education
  2. Physical Science Applications
  3. Integrating Literacy & Science
To find out more about applying for the Toyota Tapestry Grant, visit the Toyota Tapestry Program website. These applications will be completed online, and the deadline for submission is 11:59PM, Eastern Standard Time, Wednesday, January 21, 2009. Let's hop to it. Don't delay!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Are You Sure You Aren't a Science Teacher?

Photo by Lucy Nieto
Attribution-NoDerivs License
Have you been fooling yourself into thinking that you are NOT a Science teacher? Hmm! What is a common response to this question: "Do you teach Science?" No, I don't  teach Science, I don't even like Science.

Often, we are so locked into our 20th century INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTIONary mindset, that we think we ONLY teach History, Language Arts, PE or other separate topic. I think it is more prudent, as we move away from the ASSEMBLY LINE mindset, to think of  ourselves as TEACHERS of children, not TEACHERS of a topic.

For instance, how can one teach of the end of the Dark Ages in Europe (the unkown times), without mentioning the pivotal role played by the rapid spread of one of the most famous of all pandemics (or series of pandemics) the bubonic plague, the Black Death? So, History teachers ARE Science teachers after all. That is just ONE example.

A very popular history book of recent times is Guns, Germs and Steel. It tells the story of the past 13,000 years as it references the introduction of steel and guns as well as the well documented use of germ warfare by warring factions.

In Physical Education, the teacher is concerned with the improvement of the overall physical fitness of their students. When their students are fit, they think better, play more actively and enjoy life more. I wonder? Do PE  teachers teach about nutrition, healthy habits, muscle control, rules for games, etc? Yup, PE teachers are science teachers too.

There is not one ASSEMBLY LINE strand of education, and all the interactive, symbiotic education of the 21st Century includes aspects of science. Therefore, every teacher is a science teacher, we just haven't moved ourselves off the ASSEMBLY LINE and into the 21st Century yet.

I think you will agree that every teacher is a science teacher, and the corollary also must be true.
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Chrome: It's Shiny

Chrome downloaded so fast, I didn't even have time to close Flock, so that took a bit of time. Once Flock was closed, Chrome was installed in less than 30 seconds.

I was very pleased that it was easy to make browser changes. For instance, I HATE desktop icons. I prefer quick launch icons. I think they help keep the desktop neat and tidy. There were other preferences that I could select, so I did.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Tristan and the Shark

Get a Voki now!

My nephew Tristan and I were sitting in his mother's (my sister) hospital room the day his sister was born listening to all the other conversations. While we weren't directly involved, I thought I would find something online from my sister's laptop that Tristan would enjoy. We didn't have much time, so I opened up Voki. He picked his own avatar and told me what to write(it was too noisy to record his voice). This was accomplished very promptly, so we were ready when everyone else was ready to eat lunch.

Tristan loved Voki and told me he wants to get a Pokemon avatar next time. He would like to record his voice also.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Parents, NOT ComCast, Shape Internet Traffic

As Oliver Widder so eloquently expressed in a recent Geek and Poke, it is a parent's responsibility to help shape their child's internet traffic, BUT ISPs were properly slapped down by the latest ruling against Comcast. The ISP giant managed their customers' internet usage better than the most strict parent.

Federal Communications Commission ruled against choking down the internet pipe when consumers connect to ANY legal internet services, and spanks COMCAST down; inviting consumers to keep an eye on their ISP's for similar bad behavior, that just happens to be illegal.

Related articles and blogs:
FCC net-neutrality-wonks: traffic-shaping open-kimono, plz

It seems that Canadians do not have the same protections from the Big Parent ISP.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

BubbleSnaps: Quick and Easy

BubbleSnap was recommended by a colleague in Plurkadia, so I tried it out. Whether you have unlimited time to think of a clever saying to go in the bubble, or you need something NOW, BubbleSnap will work for you.

My colleague used shared how she used BubbleSnap to develop an introductory letter for her students. I think another use would be to develop a captioned BubbleSnap picture to be used as an anticipatory set, questions on a test or any number of other educational ideas.

I downloaded, captioned, emailed, saved and copied my sample BubbleSnap to blog in under 5 minutes. You can also use your Flickr pictures.

BubbleSnap is easy to use, and the steps are very straightforward. You can email, print or blog your BubbleSnap. I recommend it for anyone, but especially for teachers and students.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Blog Action Day Returns

Blog Action Day is back for 2008, and you can participate. This would be an excellent project based learning activity for any level of student or classroom bloggers.

It is easy to sign up, and you will get a widget to encourage your friends and readers to participate. The name of your blog, podcast or other online mode will be listed among the various participants.

Plus, a great amount of attention is turned to the worthy cause that is the focus of Blog Action Day each year. This year the Blog Action Day topic is Poverty.

Last year, on October 15, 2007, millions of my Blog Action Day friends and I wrote on the Topic of 2007: the environment. Since much of my biology training and teaching experience is in the area of the environment, I decided to join this worthy cause.

I focused on a living, migratory animal whose very existence depends on a clean environment and a healthy ecosystem, the Monarch Butterfly. Their migratory path from Canada to Mexico each year takes them through our area. My Blog Action Day posting, n2teaching: Momentous Monarch Migration, revealed just how spectacular and environmentally relevant their yearly migration can be.

Participating in Blog Action Day is a most enjoyable LEARNING experience. I recommend it to all my readers.

Blog Action Day 2008 Poverty from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Hop To It!

Journey North events begin in September. You and your classes will learn so much in this enjoyable, collaborative environment.

I encourage you to check out the various science projects listed on the Year-at-a-Glance Timeline that include migrations,tulip gardens,Climate Connections, mystery class and a variety of other activities that will fit into any science curriculum from Kindergarten through high school.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Getting to Know You - First Days

Photo by woodleywonderworks
Attribution License
In the first days of a new school year, teachers want to draw each student into their realm of learning and be included in each child's realm of learning. While there are as many ways to do this as there are teachers and students in our schools, I would suggest picture books can easily engage students. Presenting stories of our common experience, books reach out to students and teachers, across time and space, drawing them together, encouraging valuable learning opportunities.

Select this link to read a short discussion among my Personal Professional Learning network about children's literature we use to start the school journey. n2teaching thinks it is time to read Tar Beach and When the Relatives Came- Plurk.com

Two books, Tar Beach and The Relatives Came, share the common themes of family and story-telling. They engage children and fascinate adults. During the first days of school, these are the types of books you can use to encourage your students to become a family of learners with you.

Whether a child's family lives in the city or the country, these books will draw them in with a sense of awe and wonder for childhood past and present.

You can use these books to prime the pump at the well of common experience. The stories draw out each child's favorite family stories like cups of fresh water. In this way, children and teachers join each others’ common experience.

Photo by Carla216
Attribution-NoDerivs License
A shared experience, enhanced through storytelling, helps everyone believe in the value of the students and teacher’s common learning. It helps people make choices based on the belief in their reciprocal values. What are these reciprocal values? Even though our family groups may seem different, there are common factors between all.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Choices Teachers Make

The core philosophy of the PLN, Personal Learning Network, sometimes called by a variety of names like: Personal Learning Environment(PLE), Personal Learning Community (PLC), Professional Learning Network (PLN), or Professional Learning Community(PLC), remains the collaboration among your peers, professional in their field of expertise, in my case: teaching. When other people, who work to educate and inform their best practices, share their experiences and reflect on how these best practices informed their actions, they become your teacher. This is the reciprocal teaching factor that plays such an important role in effective professional development.

Relating to teachers' choices in learning to know our students and using that information to guide best practice is my focus. Children's interests in the 21st century can be boosted by all teachers and parents, not just by those with advanced resources. With that caveat in mind, this advertisement video does illustrate the point of how we can use technology as a tool to enhance learning while we get to know our students.

Today, I was reading blog posts among those from my PLN, and I was so drawn to this post, Successful Teaching: Highlighting Students’ Talents, by my colleague/friend, Pat Hensley, also known as loonyhiker, I knew I NEEDED to respond to it. This poignant story of how the teacher can validate or deny a person's ability to achieve in school based on their perceptions prompted me to make this response to Pat's thoughtful reflection of best practice as she experienced it. She reminded me that quality teaching is a choice that teachers make with help from a quality learning community.

I appreciated your reflective questions relating your experiences with your skateboard boy and the yoyo boy in the video. Children have hobbies, and frequently these hobbies are reflections of what they would want to do for work as adults. I am always concerned when these talents are dismissed out of hand.

While other teachers dismissed skateboard boy and his talents, you did not. "I would ask him why he was so good for me and not others and he looked at me and said, 'You like me and wouldn’t let me get away with any of that.' He felt the other teachers didn’t like him but he knew I cared and that made a big difference to him."

I am sure the other teachers may have thought they liked him, but as Dr. William Glasser, MD says in his classic, The Quality School Teacher:
"...we will work hard for those we care for(belonging), for those we respect and who respect us(power), for those with whom we laugh (fun), for those who allow us to think and act for ourselves (freedom), and for those who help us to make our lives secure (survival). The more that all five of these needs are satisfied in our relationship with the (teacher)manager who asks us to do the work, the harder we will work for that (teacher)manager.

Teachers also need opportunities to make appropriate choices, and they deserve principal teachers who are lead managers.

Sometimes not all teachers have the opportunity to work with those who will bring out their best, so they revert to a more coercive stance. I believe schools can be greatly helped if everyone works to make their school The Quality School I hope you don't mind that I have included a link to one of my blog posts, n2teaching: The Quality School Teacher, that relates to yours.

Thanks for this thought-provoking post that reminds me why teachers teach.

Monday, July 7, 2008

WORDLE: Summer Time Writing Together

Some of my favorite edtech bloggers are using Wordle, to make word clouds from a text sample. The resulting visualization is great. I want to learn how to use Wordle, so I decided this was the best opportunity to begin another PLN activity. I am selecting various blog posts that are important to me, inserting the text into the Wordle generator and posting the resulting Wordle.

The Wordle in this post was created from the wonderful Day In A Sentence submissions for the July 4th week. Established by Kevin Hodgson(DogTrax), this week's Day In A Sentence was sponsored by the authors of TechnoSeeds

Friday, July 4, 2008

A Fourth of July Retrospective

Fireworks (handheld)Today, I write about the excitement of the Fourth of July, when Americans celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence for the Eastern seaboard European colonies of America. I love to listen to patriotic music, watch movies, grill outside, make ice cream, talk to relatives and shoot fireworks. For instance, here is a trailer from one of my favorite American patriotic movies, I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy, a biography of George M. Cohan.

Other Americans celebrate in similar ways from "sea to shining sea", and I am glad to share in their excitement. My post today is a bit of a flag waver, since my family has been in this paradoxical, yet steady love affair with the United States of America for centuries. When I talk of historical events, it is from my American perspective, so I hope you will understand. I am very thankful for my friends and colleagues all across Earth.

To many who live in countries other than the United States of America, our never-ending quest for freedom probably seems like a willow o' wisp, a hope or a goal as ephemeral as lights created from swamp gas.

In literature, Will o' the wisp sometimes has a metaphorical meaning, describing a hope or goal that leads one on but is impossible to reach,.... (Wikipedia entry for "will-o'-the-wisp"[#8])

While some of my ancestors were already here, many of my ancestors came to this continent from European countries with rules and traditions that excluded them, even killed them. For instance, one of my ancestral grandmothers, Catherine Transue Mast, was an American colonist of Huguenot ancestry. All one has to do is say the word, Huguenot, in the United States of America and most will know of their struggle. It is a shared story in our American history. These incidences happened centuries ago, and I am thankful that these Huguenot families were able to make it to what is now the United States of America.

My Huguenot ancestors survived to travel to North America and live in what is now known as Pennsylvania not just because they subscribed to the idea of freedom from "priestly kings". They believed that leaders should be elected from among their group, so people needed to be educated and involved in the socio-political affairs of the day. These ancestors believed in freedom to work for yourself and to receive pay for your own personal work.

They lived this ideal of equality among those who work for themselves, even before they helped start the American colonies. Today, they would be part of what we call the middle class. They were craftsmen, blacksmiths, farmers and teachers. They passed on such a strong devotion to the middle class that it is strongly entrenched in our familial psyche, from the moment we begin to learn.

Our family tries diligently to remain in the middle class. We believe it is the socio-economic level where most people recognize that personal choice in areas such as: work, love and honor among free individuals will always be guiding principles. I believe that our family will continue and prosper in the United States of America while there is a strong middle class ethic of freedom with responsibility to support our shared government, our democracy. Support most often means voting, paying taxes, providing guidance to our elected officials, getting an effective education and fighting together when needed.

I love the Fourth of July, and I was raised to love being an American. As Americans I will be the first to acknowledge that sometimes fall short of our ideal, but we pick up ourselves up, dust ourselves off and head for the ideal America, where freedom with responsibility prevails.

Here are some favorite songs and films. Some are stirring songs of patriotism, like the the ancestor of all American patriotic songs our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. Actually written by Francis Scott Key after the survival of Fort McHenry, near Baltimore, MD. The story is detailed here in this video:

This recent favorite is clearly sardonic, yet totally American. Randy Newman sings, In Defense of Our Country.

I hope I began to express the paradoxical, yet hopeful nature of my idea of modern America. Americans are trying to do their best to continue to grow as a nation and as a people.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Mind of a Teacher in Summer

This is my contribution to Keven Hodgson's project, The Day in a Sentence, from Kevin's Meandering Mind. I will post this on this week's guest host blog, TechnoSeeds, by TechnoGeek, Barbara K.

Think of summer as a time for clearing the mind of all the great ideas we have during the school year, a cleansing experience.

This refers to all the work we do over the summer to finish and release projects that have lay dormant in our minds all through the school year.

I love this project, and I hope you will agree it is a worthy effort to making writing fun.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Finally, checking out ping.fm; lol, discovered I was already a member; well, OK then.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Be Prepared!

d I Y

T e DSC_1408 H
Technology in all its forms have fascinated me since I was a child. I am thrilled that the opensource and DIY technologies are not just surviving, they are thriving. I love to see what wonderful possibilities and opportunities are available to teachers, parents and students in this vast World Of Electrons.

Conversations continue on the topic of DIY vs corporate, packaged simulacrums of what is available online....imitation copies that corporations convince administrators and technology directors will be "just as good" as what a teacher and class can create themselves. I strongly disagree.

A twitter colleague, @garageflowers, just cited a blog post on this topic, I Guess I'm Still a Punk.

After reading this blog post, I had to share my comments to the author, @glassbeed, with my readers. Mostly, they relate to a basic tenet of teaching, about being prepared to stand up for what you believe. If you want to support DIY technology, I believe you should be prepared to describe, design and defend it.

Yes, I agree. This was a great post. I love DIY technology, and I have worked diligently to document and explain how teachers can use it effectively in their classes or with students.

I was just thinking about your post when I went to my blog to capture my url and saw that WeatherPixie is down. This is a prime example of the downside of DIY technology. Teachers must prepare for the positive, as well as negative aspects of DIY technology in their classes.

WeatherPixie has been a pivotal widget for teachers and students. The developer of WeatherPixie is not the problem, but the company who owns the server that supports her website had a fire. This was a problem that she couldn't help, but it highlights a problem that tech directors and administrators can cite to keep teachers from using these free online tools. Teachers must be prepared.

Another concern associated with opensource products and online tools is that they are ephemeral. They may be here today and gone tomorrow, for any number of legitimate reasons. That makes it difficult for teachers to really go to the wall arguing for the use of this technology. They must be prepared.

I am saying use this developing technology, but a teacher must be VERY agile and have backup plans in case tools aren't available. Also, teachers should decide how they will console students if their projects are lost. They must be prepared.

It is great to be a DIY tech person, but you have to be prepared;D

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Wee Post About Journey North

Description unavailableImage by ccmerino via FlickrMany of my colleagues at Diigo share marvelous bookmarks that relate to various hands-on and outdoor teaching categories, and Tami Brass shared a great resource,Group Recipes. She and I discussed other websites to help teachers in these hands-on subjects enter the Web2.0 world.

She mentioned other teachers interested in golf and another who is a voluteer in a nature center and intereseted in raptors who could be introduced to Web2.0. While I couldn't help out with the golfers, I realized one of my favorite science networks, Journey North would give the raptor afficionado as starting place to see the value of online learning networks.

Here is my introduction from Diigo:

Can't help with the golfers, but one the oldest and most respected wildlife migration and habitat study groups is Journey North.

They have an entire section of work with a variety of animals, including RAPTORS, whales, Monarch butterflies, and many others. Journey North organizers present cool science projects like the tulip growing, Mystery Classroom, etc for classes to join. A teacher can pick as few or as many of these project as they want to participate in.

While the Journey North project started as a way to study the Monarch butterfly migration in North America, it has gone global. Kids and teachers in classes all over the world participate in many of the activities like Mystery Classroom and Tulip Growing(phenology) experiments.
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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Be a Book Wizard!

Embed this new widget, Teacher Book Wizard, in your website or blog and anyone can use it to find children's books by author, keyword or title.

Scholastic has used Google gadgets to create an excellent teacher resource, a children's literature search engine. When you find the book you listed, you will receive information about the reading and interest levels, as well as purchasing information.

You can search for your favorite book or new titles to help you develop an instructional unit. I selected a variety of keywords to use in the Teacher Book Wizard Widget and a representative list of available books on the topic were found and listed by this search engine.

I embedded this widget in mymindtoyourmind widget wiki. It will make a nice addition to the variety of other widgets that I previously recommended for use by teachers.

Many of the titles are published by Scholastic, yet the search engine results do include book titles from other publishers in this search engine. This search engine is not perfect by any means, so I would encourage you to also use other search engines like Xoost for hard-to-find titles.

When readers at your blog, wiki, or website use the Teacher Book Wizard Widget, they will be taken away from your site to the Scholastic site. I would like to see this widget open in another tab or window. While this is an inconvenience, it is not a major hindrance.
clipped from www.scholastic.com
Teacher Book Wizard Widget
What is the Teacher Book Wizard Widget and how do I use it?
FREE ultimate children's book search engine
The widget will help teachers find:
  • Book and author information
  • Reading levels
  • Book-based lesson plans, booktalks and discussion guides
  • Series lists
  • embed the Teacher Book Wizard Widget onto your Web site or blog.
     blog it
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    Saturday, June 7, 2008

    Technology in Stone

    Reuse of component from design libraryImage via WikipediaTechnology in schools was embraced early in TechED history by the hands-on teachers who teach work skills, sometimes called vocational skills. These teachers seem to naturally accept the use of technology, since it enhances their ability to teach drafting, pattern making and instructional video.

    CAD, computer assisted drafting, has been around so long it has even seen a transition to the public sphere in freeware products like SketchUp.

    Thankfully, the technology teachers who work in these interesting vocational fields still make their work look exciting. It must be the "Tom Sawyer" effect.

    Simon B. , an educational colleague, shares excellent videos about his work with students, TAFE and various colleagues in stonemasonry. They are all very interesting and instructive.

    As a person who loves geology in its more practical forms, I appreciate the organically pleasing characteristics of their raw material, stone. The image above is a historical picture taken in a granite quarry in Colorado, USA.

    The latest addition to the video collection for Stonemasonry wiki opens with an interview of Michael Landers, head stonemasonry teacher at Miller College Institute, standing in front of a marvelous work in stone.

    If you like beautiful things or hands-on work, you should check out this wiki, Stonemasonry, as well as SkillsOne.

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    Friday, June 6, 2008

    PSU TechED Presentation Debriefing #1

    Gus the GorillaImage via WikipediaToday, at Pittsburg State University, I presented two technology education workshops. The first techED conference workshop related to sharing the beginning concepts of social bookmarking systems. My goal was to share how teachers use these online systems to teach research skills, including note-taking. The second was a presentation, a basic overview of widgets, tiny self-contained snippets of code that make objects become interactive within a website, wiki or other online portal.

    Both workshops were well attended, and overall I was satisfied with the results. Those attending asked excellent questions, and I will write about each set for a few days.

    In the del.icio.us session, most participants discussed how this online bookmarking would work for the stated purpose, research and note-taking. The teachers made great observations, some I am still processing. As always happens, there were issues, some of which included different operating systems, different learning rates and different browsers.

    The analogy I like to use when thinking of the different operating systems is a car analogy. Using different operating systems is similar to driving different makes of vehicles. This difference in operating systems, to me, is the same as if I was driving my husband's GM pickup or driving my Saturn. There are definitely differences in placement of the lights, windshield wipers, and other important systems, but once you refocus, all cars move on down the road. I know that most people don't see the different operating systems, Mac and Windows in such simplistic terms, YET once you get to the internet, all operating systems work the same.

    There is a third option: GNU Linux or Unix and its flavors. These open source operating systems appear to be gaining user numbers for many reasons, yet I don't think we will be seeing the opensource operating systems being used in K-12 education in any great numbers.

    The browser issue is another bucket of worms altogether. I try never to tell people which browsers to use, but historically, MS Internet Explorer is the target of attack from various people and groups bent on creating havoc on the ordinary user. That historical note always leaves me wondering why schools insist on using MS Internet Explorer and not Firefox.

    While I really had to stay on my toes and could be a bit smoother in my delivery, I achieved my stated goals for each of the sessions. Having an opportunity to earn "Service to the Profession" professional development points makes me a better educator. I enjoyed working in an environment where people asked pointed questions.

    Part of this debriefing will address ways to streamline the hands-on workshop. One thing I already know is that forty-five minutes was not long enough for even a basic introduction of del.icio.us. When people are rushed, they become pressured and may have difficulty learning new material. I don't want to do that to people again. I could have effectively used thirty more minutes.

    All in all, it was an exciting thought-provoking experience, and I enjoyed all aspects of it. The participants were very gracious with each other and me. I hope they take some ideas home that they can expand on within their own classes.

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