Thursday, February 26, 2009

March Math Madness

Pi Day CountdownEach year, Pi Day becomes more of an exciting learning opportunity for students, teachers and a growing number of the general public. The day can be a culminating experience or a jumping off spot for learning all the cool math surrounding Pi that is appropriate to your grade level. Next to the 100 Day (Zero to Hero) celebration, I think Pi Day is one of the most celebrated math days in schools.

If you participate in Pi Day, please share your links or descriptions of your celebrations...including pictures.

If you haven't started using Pi Day as a jumping off point for great learning and an opportunity for greater technology integration, you can start by reading Pi R Not Square, Pi R Round!. You will find a variety of ideas that can be implemented right away, as well as ways to make your celebration coordinate with others in your Professional Learning Network.Pi Day Countdown

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dandelions and Spring Cleaning

meadow by gato-gato-gato
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

As Spring comes closer in the Northern Hemisphere, it seems to me that a little preparation is in order. Spring on the prairie is quite lovely, and it is breathtaking to see the rolling hills fill with the various hues of greens, yellows, blues and purples of spring.

While I was Spring Cleaning (early), I came across a wonderful book that I would like to share with my Professional Learning Network.

If you want to share the feel, the look and the mood of the prairie, read Dandelions, one of my favorites. Written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Greg Shed, Dandelions tells the story of a family who traveled from Illinois to Nebraska Territory to homestead the "grass sea" we call the prairie.

I will warn you that it is a powerful story, so you might want to have a tissue at hand.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Anticipate and Skype Your Reaction

Impatience by mdezemery
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

Integrating technology organically turns the unobtrusive, the familiar into something new and unique.

These are Skype techniques that belong to the Anticipation Reaction learning strategy family.

  • If students are away from class, but able to virtually participate, they can watch, text and be viewed through Skype.
  • Total class involvement: ask or display a question, statement or problem in class, then students answer through Skype. Begin the discussion after all have answered.
  • If a student wants to ask a question, they can ask in private, through Skype, without other students knowing, if they are shy or think it would be embarassing.

After all anticipatory answers are received by the teacher and discussed in class, students can skype their reactions(answers)to the lesson. Changing some answers and leaving others as they were originally skyped will encourage student learning in a non-threatening environment using this user-friendly, ubiquitous online web application.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Opportunity to Comment: Activating Links

Power Law of Participation by Ross Mayfield
Attribution-NonCommercial License
Commenting on a blog post helps the reader/commentator and the blog author. The author of the blog always benefits from the feedback of their colleagues and other readers, while the commentator benefits by sharing their ideas and related links. Even though anyone can write an adequate blog, there are many tips that will boost the efficacy of a blog. You can make the process faster and the writing better. The same could be said for the commentator.

When you take the time to comment and add to the conversation, I think you should include related links, including those that are directed to similar postings of your own. I am not alone in this opinion. There are many blog postings that explain why it's important to add appropriate and active links when commenting. This is a typical point about commentators linking through there comments:

Many bloggers (myself included) believe that good comments should be rewarded with a link back to the commenter's site (if they so choose to include one). However, the way you go about commenting and including a link will clearly demonstrate whether you are there to contribute or merely to take.
David Wallace, of SearchRank.

When commenting and adding to the educational professional development conversation, I hope you will use the .html that will give you an active link here on this blog that refers to the blog or website you are quoting. Here's how to insert the url and name of the link you want to activate:

Why do I hope you will do this? I want to continue the conversation. If your link in your comment is not active, most people will not take the time to copy and paste your link. We all benefit from your investment of time to learn this little bit of code used in Blogger, because your links will be active. Readers will have an opportunity to learn more and continue the professional development conversation. That helps all of us improve our educational practice which directly improves the educational experience of students as well.

The caveat is that many other blogging platforms use a different snippet of code, but you can learn these also. The more you practice adding active links, the more effective you will become in adding value to each conversation. Isn't that one of the reasons why we collaborate in our Professional Learning Network?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I'm Here!

Finally back on Utterli, and wanted to say something funny. Hee! Yup! That's it! That is probably as funny as it gets.

Mobile post sent by n2teaching using Utterlireply-count Replies.

When I began my serious pursuit of professional development in technology education, I was lucky enough to be guided by a remarkable colleague, Jennifer Jones. She was one of the first people to friend me on Twitter, and she was not just looking for more followers or trying to check out the competition. Jennifer truly believes in the power of collaboration and learning through technology education. She is a remarkable technology educator, and she has a wonderful family who share in her passion for learning and having fun.

Twitter was the first microblogging site I joined, so in the fall of 2007 when Jennifer said she was checking out a microblogging site with video and audio capabilities, I decided that I needed to check it out. That is when I joined UTTERZ. Also, I joined Susan Tsairi another wonderful online colleague, and we began to use Utterz. Also, I put the really cool UTTERLI widget at the bottom of this blog.

This was also about the time that my teen began to see that I now had a significant online presence. I never really knew how that was perceived by my child, but I gathered the word "nerd" and "geek" were synonymously replacing my name whenever the teen and friends would discuss my move to online professional development. Well, no one can say I am not a thorough student.

I was very excited about the possibilities of using UTTERZ, but even dedicated students such as myself can succumb to family relational pressure. I stopped sharing my online professional development experience with the teen when I was asked if I would be using Twitter and Utterz, and it was sadi in such a way that I had to laugh at the interesting, yet nonsensical names of the various educational networks I joined.

Fortunately, UTTERZ changed their name to UTTERLI, and I greatly appreciate it. To utter on paper is so much different than to utter in conversation, and it began to wear on my traditionalist, farm country sensibilities. THANK YOU!

I love UTTERLI, and the people who make it all happen. They have added conferencing capabilities, cross-posting, desktop applications and many other cool services. Try it! This microblogging/podcasting services is UTTERLI fantastic.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Opportunity: Speak for the Future

As educators, our primary duty lies in always looking to and speaking for the future.....that is what a teacher does. As an educator, interested in the re-integration of science into our future learning/teaching cycle, I join groups that share my ideals. Recently, a science advocacy group, Science Debate 2008, began by encouraging us to speak up in support of science and technology.

The main focus of Science Debate 2008 was to encourage the candidates to debate the trends and issues related to Science in the United States of America. Americans have long made innovations as science and technology serves us as the engine of economic stability in our country.

Those who joined in the call to bring science and technology back into the public sphere have political leanings that are as varied as the individual snowflakes in a snowstorm, yet we are united in an important cause to promote science and technology. I hope we can encourage the regeneration of science and technology to help stabilize and improve our economy.

Since the election ended, Science Debate 2008 continued to inform us about trends and issues about science and technology in the United States of America.

Just last week, I received an email with important information that detailed the proposed Nelson-Collins cuts in the economic stimulus and tax cut bill. NSF, NOAA, USDA, and a wide variety of governmental agencies focusing on research and education had their money slashed....theoretically. Many of us responded to the invitation to write our congressional representatives in the House and Senate.

After I received the information, I wrote both of my senators. While I knew the chances of them voting for any of the plans were slim, I encouraged them to ask those would vote to NOT cut the science job and education stimulus portion of this bill. I was only one of a multitude of concerned voters who encouraged our elected officials to strongly consider the job creating abilities of NSF, NOAA and other governmental agencies that could immediately grant monies to projects that will put people to work and educate them about science and technology.

As the elections of 2008 are past, Science Debate 2008 has been inspired to continue to support the efforts of individuals like YOU and me. They have listened to our suggestions and will be

"concentrating the majority of our focus on the broad goal of continuing to 'restore science to its rightful place in three ways: championing science debates among policymakers and those running for office; combating the erosion of science and science policy in the media; and new efforts to involve young people in science policy discussions."

Yes, their work is our work. Including young people is a sure fire way to integrate science, math, engineering and technology in their complete education.

WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY! Please join me and the thousands of others in working with Science Debate 2008 to find ways to integrate science and technology into the lives of our students and communities.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

With a Little Help From My Friends

Peace sprout by mj*laflaca
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License
After writing an environmental project with various activities, I discovered that I couldn't decide what to name the Kitchen Composting Activity where students will receive 3 redworms, kitchen scraps (no protein or milk) and shredded paper to watch as the worms make soil through composting.

I NEED YOUR HELP! I hope you would select one of the titles that I have listed or suggest your own really cool title.

I hope you agree with me that this survey is a very effective use for Google Docs: Forms in educational processes, and I want to thank you in advance.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Opportunity Revisted: Email Part 2

Ciber Cafe by larskflem
Attribution-NonCommercial License
Email is the opportunity revisited. Let's focus on its positive uses today. In Opportunity Revisited: Email Part 1, the history and types of early forms of email were discussed.

Although a wide range of instant electronic messaging systems flourish today, including IM, Plurk and Skype, email remains a viable option for those with limited connectivity or access to computers. Email also can be used as a more formal mode of electronic communication.

I continue to use email, but my modes of usage have changed over the years. Normally those uses now include:

* Subscriptions
* Group sign up
* official interactions
* personal interactions

Like many in my Professional Learning Network, I maintain an email address used when subscribing to various applications and sign-ups for groups that I have just discovered. Since I don't want to be spammed or attacked, Using this technique, I try to quarantine new subscriptions and other group sign-ups to this email address. If this email address is attacked through a virus, malware or theft of my identity, very few of my personal or long-term professional contacts will be included in the attack. While this may not create a fool-proof response, it is a basic layer of protection that I can maintain myself.

A specific email address for official and personal interactions can also be used. If I want to address an issue with my governmental representatives, work with colleagues or communicate with other businesses and agencies, I can.....because of the very nature of email. Namely, asynchronicity in all its forms.

Since email is considered a legal document, it also becomes a valid method of formal communication. That brings up another point, email is FORMAL communication, just as snail mail is, so I suggest that caution and minimalism should be used when sending email.

How are you using email today?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Opportunity Revisted: Email Part 1

Opportunity is my professional development focus for 2009. I will examine various aspects of opportunity. Today, opportunity revisited is the topic. My first opportunity to revisit is EMAIL. Despite the problems with viruses and spam, it still remains a viable mode of electronic communication.

Email, or electronic mail has existed in various formats, since the mid-1960's, yet many people commonly using the internet today, began regularly sending and receiving emails in the 1990's.

When I took a non-scientific poll of my Professional Learning Network on Plurk, a series of common dates emerged: 1996, 1998 or more generally in the 1990's. Some used the earlier forms of email, as they had access to university or business related email systems. One was called ARPANET, later renamed NSFNET. Others created simple programs that allowed message sharing, sometimes known as email. All were actively using email by the beginning of the 21st Century.

When did you began using email?