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.