Thursday, December 6, 2007

Career Choices

Today in history: - Dec. 6

  • Fifty years ago, on Dec. 6, 1957, America's first attempt at putting a satellite into orbit failed as Vanguard TV3 rose only about four feet off a Cape Canaveral launch pad before crashing back down and exploding.
  • In 1790, Congress moved to Philadelphia from New York.
  • In 1889, Jefferson Davis, the first and only president of the Confederate States of America, died in New Orleans.
  • In 1947, Everglades National Park in Florida was dedicated by President Truman.
  • Discovery Education made some drastic cuts and I was jobless.

The first event may have helped prompt people into going into technology. I believe so because we now have satellite TV and directional units such as my Garmin that keep us from getting lost. The second event may not have prompted too many career changes, but I wish I could prompt my friend Chris Marshall in running for Congress eventually. The next event caused a change of positions and career thoughts. The 1947 event I added only because it dealt with Florida. The last event is personal and had me thinking about what type of job I could do now that I was without.

I loved technology coaching. I really did. That's why I love to do the trainings as much as I can. Luckily I had two companies offer me a job before New Years, and now I'm with netTrekker. They're a small company with a HUGE heart and I'm happy to be apart of their family.

When others face this type of crisis, I wonder what they do? Do they turn to other similar companies and try to find a similar job? Do they turn to a new path? I hold a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education and a Masters Degree in Technology in Education. What am I qualified for? (Don't worrry- I'm not looking to change jobs - just curious.)

I found one great site with wonderful information about the different types of jobs based on your interests at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I like to read, and would love to write, but nothing else really appealed to me. Maybe the librarian, however I'd have to be quiet. I worked at a bookstore once, really loved it - but Hernando County is missing a bookstore. They're building -but it's not here yet.

I found another great site about careers you never knew existed. They even have games to help "experience" the job. Now I love my CSI, and I would love to try my hand at the board game. I remember once as a child my friend Terri and I dusted for fingerprints the cafeteria window that was left open because we thought the person we saw on the third floor broke in. We were collecting evidence before we called the cops. Turned out, he was the janitor and we were out a bit later than we were suppose to be. However, I don't think I'd make a very good CSI in real life. Why? My knowledge of science is not very extensive for one. But the real reason - I hate blood. I could never look at the dead body or theblood and make it through the scene to solve the case. There'd be so many open cases, I'd be fired.

Another fun site was "Could This Be Your Life? " For $7.95 I can take this test and see which Career Key will open doors for me. I can find other tests by going to the Career One Stop.

As a former career teacher, I love the new items that are online for students to get a real grasp of what's out there and what they would be succesful. I know some think that elementary is still too young to talk careers, but in truth - that's the best time. They love to act things out and "play" different roles. Give them a reason to work hard in school.

Back to my sudden career change - I did love my job and I value all the DEN members and my fellow coworkers. I met some wonderful people and had some great times. The move to Florida was great for Joey. And while I'm sad that my run with them only last less than a year, I'm happy that the FL DEN picked up and continued so strong. I'm also very happy that I was able to link up with a wonderful company and I hope that all of the other former field managers were also able to pick up the pieces and move on. I have heard from Susan, Katherine, Kristen, Jan and Gerard. Every once in awhile I see Rachel, Linda, and Dawn online. I still keep in touch with Karen. And I'm lucky enough to still get to work with Chris. (RUN FOR AN OFFICE CHRIS! GO INTO POLITICS CHRIS!). I'm glad to still be in education and working with teachers and am thankful that I did not let go of the pulse with what's going on in educational techonology. I don't think I could ever truly leave the field of education and be happy. (Unless the city of Tampa hires me to be a Sports and Education Link Specialist for the teams to promote them in a positive way to help meet state standards. Oh wait, that would still be education.)

Enjoy the career links and have a great day of teaching!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Cyber Bullying

I've been following the sad story of Megan Meier on the Today Show and on other blogs. For those who are not familiar with her story, Megan was a 13 year old who suffered from ADD and depression, along with self-esteem issues. She was taking medicine, staying involved in school and athletics and was really trying to turn her life around. She ended a friendship with another girl though and the girl's mother (Lori Drew) decided to do some snooping. How? She used MySpace, created an account of a mythical boy and had that "boy" flirt with Megan. The mother's reasons- to get Megan to talk about her child and see what she was saying. I'm not sure if Megan ever said anything, but after so many weeks online flirting "Josh" turned on Megan and was really ugly to her. Megan took that to heart and hung herself, just shy of her 14th birthday.
Megan's mom say they did monitor her time online. They made a call today on the Today Show asking for schools to step up with the cyberbullying lessons. More on that in a bit. I want to add my 1 Cent on Ms. Drew's abuse.
1. On MySpace it says you're not suppose to post messages to harrass. Calling Megan the names she did, well that's harrassing.
2. The Terms on MySpace also say that " all registration information you submit is truthful and accurate". Obviously the person who created the account of "Josh" did not. My Space- step up and prosecute. Show that you are not going to allow people to abuse your services like this! Set an example!
3. Oops! Megan's mom is in violation because her daughter was not 14. No one under 14 should be on MySpace. There are reasons for that. One is for safety of the children, the second is because usually children under 14 do not have the mentality for online social networking, and I'm sure there are 3rd, 4th and more reasons.
4. Prohibited content on MySpace includes:
is patently offensive and promotes racism, bigotry, hatred or physical harm of any kind against any group or individual (Drew's last post by Josh was offensive and promoted hatred of Megan.)
5. The following content is not allowed:
a. harasses or advocates harassment of another person (Drew to Megan)
b. solicits personal information from anyone under 18 (Her thoughts were personal, and that was the reason she created the account to begin with - to solicit what Megan was saying about her daughter)
c. promotes information that you know is false or misleading or promotes illegal activities or conduct that is abusive, threatening, obscene, defamatory or libelous (Her information was false, misleading and was abusive to a troubled teenager. She also defamed Megan.)

Yes, I believe Drew should be held liable for her actions of posing as a teenager when in fact she is a mother of a teenager. This is not the first case of abuse online that has caused a teenager to take their life, but it is a case of a grown adult (a mother!) against a child.

Okay, I'll stop rambling. I have more thoughts on that but I want to get to the cyberbullying in schools.

There are a lot of schools that have embraced the 21st century skills and are teaching these to the students. Look at people like Jennifer and Vicki Davis. They are teaching blogging, online collaboration, and using other online tools. The ones who are teaching these skills, then cyber bullying is part of their curriculum. I dare say that the teachers who are not teaching these skills or who are only glossing over the use because they know they should but not because they totally believe in them forget the importance of teaching ethics with these skills.

If there are any parents who are reading this, check with your children's teachers and ask if they are teaching cyber ethics along with the technology skills. If you are a technology teacher (whether a classroom teacher who uses technology or you teach technology)- make sure others are also teaching about cyber ethics. I know when I taught business ed, the first week of class was always the safety in a business classroom and when using online technology. Safety for me included ethics. My colleague who taught the exact same thing did not teach the ethics part. She was more concerned about the students sitting properly and leaving the room right and then producing well typed out documents. But there was a difference of beliefs and techniques and so maybe that's why her computers were the ones the students practiced sending viruses on. My kids went through that portion in ethics.

And parents, have your child sign an AUP for home use of the computer as well. They cannot use the computer without you sitting over their shoulder unless they sign an agreement of behavior online. Make sure you enforce it. My son's not a techno kid, but we have our own agreement for video games and online activities. He was caught cheating on a game with his cousin and lost the rights to his DS and multiplayer games until Christmas holidays.

As a community member, a parent, and a teacher we need to encourage ethical use of computers and model the behavior as well.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Google Earth

I heard Tom's frustrated cry when he read the article about Google Earth maybe going away. The reason for the fear of Google Earth going away? Google Maps are becoming even more intense, now including terrain cover and even "Google Map Community" which includes a wiki type of collaboration.
Google Earth is cool, I'll give you that. I love the new features for the sky. However, a lot of schools that I worked with either in SC or in FL had it blocked because of the tremendous use of bandwidth. For a teacher to model, that was fine. But once you start using it on 30 laptops, well you're really starting to drag the network.
I will say this, the Google Maps and Google Earth FINALLY have my address available and show ALL the street addresses in my community. Yahoo Maps do to now, but the Google ones are a bit more up to date.
Those that use Google Earth or Maps, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Another Twit

I love it! I'm talking to a netTrekker user about videos, clicked to open a tab and instead opened up my Twitter tab. There I see a posting about Open Vault. I finish the conversation with the customer and check it out. I learn so much from Twitter!

Basically Open Vault provides content from WGBH (the same people who bring us Teachers Domain!) of videos with historical importance that were produced by this great public television station. It's meant for classroom (and even personal) learning. I looked at two videos and saw that they included the transcripts! WHOO HOO! I don't know about you, but sometimes in those "historical documents" I get lost in the lingo and the transcript would help me make notes and stay on task. I'm not seeing a way to download the video, but hey - if you're using it for research, then why download it? There are other great tools, but my phone's ringing and I really need to get back to work!

And my brother laughed when I told him I Twitter and learn a lot from my fellow Twits!


No catchy titles lately. I'd probably be marked down for that if I was being graded on a rubric.
Rubrics have been a popular topic again lately. I see that as a good sign because that means there are is more project based learning going on. I'm okay with a few worksheets here and there to support learning- but I have seen more understanding through projects where the kids have to apply thinking skills.
While doing my trainings lately and talking to educators, I mention rubrics to grade a project and the teachers will ask, "Do you have a favorite site for creating rubrics?" Oh yes! YES! It's my favorite by far, and it's found at Myt4l (My Tools for Learning- a gift to educators from the creators of Tech4Learning products.) When I found their rubric maker online, I became one happy teacher. I like the fact that I can select the categories and subcategories, edit the text if needed, and when I save it- I'm either saving it as an HTML file or as an Excel file (which is great for making changes later). But besides being a great rubric maker, one of the things I really enjoy is the fact that it creates a checklist for the students.
I once helped a teacher do a study, after we read about a similar one online. We did a small project with a rubric with the ones column first and the fours last. We learned that a majority of the kids only did the ones column. They really do read left to right and they stopped after the first column. So lesson #1 - always start with your highest standard and work backwards. The next thing we did was do another simple project with the fours first this time. Much better results - but some of our smart slackers who read column three realized that they could do a little bit less and still get a passing score. So the third project we did a checklist of what was required. We had gone over the rubric in class and then handed out the checklist as a guide. The results were awesome, even from our smart slackers. For that reason, Myt4l's rubric maker is one of my favorites.
However, one of the things I have been learning lately is that teachers that have not taken a proper PBL class have no idea how to write a rubric and I am one of those masochists who believe everyone should try to write one by hand first to get a full appreciation for the rubric makers online. If you are trying to teach someone a rubric, I'd like to share with you something that I learned YEARS ago, I believe on the Beacon Learning Site.
Imagine that you are about to hire a maid. (I know- every teachers dream!) You can either pay her $25, $50, $75, or $100 a visit. Write out what you expect done for each amount. Obviously when you pay more, you'll get more. (A guy teacher once told me this made more sense dealing with buying a car- but it's the same concept.) Okay, so for $25 you want her to come in and vacuum, sweep and mop all rooms in the house. For $50 she's going to do all that, plus add in dusting, washing your baseboards, and cleaning the toilets bowls. For $75 she'll do all that and also change the sheets on the beds and change out all the guest towels and clean the entire toilets. For a $100, she's going to go from room to room and do everything, plus completely clean the kitchen, wash out the bathtubs, and any laundry within a time period that she can get done.
Of course, that's a little off, but you get an idea. And yes, the maid could be a male - didn't mean to be so gender specific there.
The next issue that comes up with rubrics are how to actually USE them to get the score. That's where this nifty little website comes in to play. I learned about it on Twitter (thanks JMaklary) and loved the explanation! The site is called Roobrix, and the explanation is the part that I really liked. So if you're new to GRADING by a rubric, check it out. OH, and it's free to use.
So come on teachers! Get out Inspiration, plan a lesson with web researching (using netTrekker of course), decide on a product outcome that would show understanding (Photostory/Digital Story, a blog entry, creation of a wiki with the organized information, a model, etc.) and use a rubric now that you have a cool tool for building AND grading!

Monday, November 26, 2007


I know that not everyone is a fan of most vendors out there. Whether it's the vendors at a ball game that overprice their wares and get you to drop money than you planned because you have a kid begging for cotton candy, sno cones, and a foam finger or whether it's at an Ed Tech Conference looking to take the few dollars that you have in your budget. I know that some of the true techies firmly believe that they can do it themselves, and for them I applaud. But for others who don't want to spend the time trying to figure out how to do it for free and how to keep it running smoothly- well that's what vendors are for.

I personally love vendors. When I was a tech specialist, they made my life easier. But I was not of the true geek sort and I also knew we had some money earmarked for the type of products we were in need of.

While at GAETC I ran into friends of mine from echalk. For those of you who are not familiar with echalk, they provide SAFE email for your students and teachers. Not only that but you can also customize a very easy to navigate website, host your podcasts, and even video. I like the ability to create a group for a professional development class to where the participants can post questions, share documents, participate in a discussion board, etc. It's just a great tool.

And yes, I could probably build something similar, give everyone an Outlook or other email account that I already have access to, and use another free source for the courseware, but in all honesty - I don't have hours upon hours to do so. Plus, if something breaks it's hard for me to find someone who has time and knowledge to actually help me on things I built myself. However, with echalk, I know I'll have access to a great support staff.

Pretty neat tool that's gotten even better.

Friday, November 16, 2007


The Georgia conference (GAETC) has always been one of my favorites.The teachers that present here are outstanding! (This is the first one that is a bit winded and hasn't gotten to the topic yet at hand, but its the first in years that I've encountered.) I did have to work the booth this time, which was great because I met a lot of great netTrekker users and potential users. However, I'm very thankful to Vicki Davis for ustreaming the sessions she went to so I could still enjoy the presentations I missed.
uStreaming is a really neat tool that I've been lurking and checking recorded episodes, but have not actually tried. I think I will though if I can find something useful to try it with. However, I decided NOT to enjoy the ustreamed version of Vicki's presentation this morning and instead went to enjoy it in person.
Her presentation was about the Flat Classroom Project in her classroom: My Seatmate Lives in China. Let me start with a quick thought. As a private school teacher who has an administrator that can empower her, Vicki has a bit more ease than most public school teachers at implementing such a project. She even mentioned study hall at one point. HOWEVER - if you listen closely and if you follow Vicki at all online, then you'll realize that she puts a lot of heart and time into these projects because she believes in them as a way to really educate her students. While she may have the ability to unblock and then reblock a site as needed and a normal teacher does not, she has her obstacles. So if a public school teacher is interested in re-creating, joining in on an e-collaborative project, or designing their own, they need to work with their school system to lower the hurdles where possible.
Vicki also mentioned that the number one problem they have with getting public school teachers involved is actually because of our mandatory assessments that have no real meaning in the real world. Side question: Do we test our administrators, community members, and policy makers/politicians every two weeks to make sure they are making the grade? No, we don't interrupt their work to test them. There are other real world benchmarks they use to know if they are doing a great job, a poor job or continue to live in their fantasy world.
Back on topic. I don't want to get into the whole presentation because you can watch it for yourself on Vicki's uStream Channel, but I do want to share a few tidbits I learned.
  • PowerPoint is out. Now try Google Presentations with the back channel so participants, even those that are not sitting in the same room, can participate without interrupting.
  • Silence is noise to today's students. Let them listen to THEIR music on their iPod. You might see more productivity out of them.
  • Make sure that your school has a great AUP in place, but protect yourself and your students even more with a special permission slip on your major projects - especially those that involve international collaboration and in-depth use of the web.
  • Ning now is offering free services to schools. Create a social network with your students. Not on Facebook or MySpace because they really do want their own space. Ning can be kept private.
  • Sandbox mode is extremely important, especially when introducing new software or tools. Not just for the students, but for our teachers. (She explains this really well in her presentation.)
  • Make sure that you are clickable and verifiable as a source.
  • I am probably misspelling this - but teachers need to be "Teacherpreneurs" - who connect, empower and encourage new methods, tools, and ideas for the classroom.
  • The first step of any project is to make sure that you are connected! With RSS feeders, bookmarks, teacher networks, etc. So teachers join organizations like the TIE network if you are in Georgia, DEN if you are a Discovery fan, or join a Ning network or just the Twitterverse and check out edtechtalk.
I have more to write, but I'll do that this weekend or next week.

Monday, November 12, 2007


I love Twitter! I learn so much from those people on there! Especially John Pederson. Today he twitted about a great online tool. Here's an online stopwatch for your next class/professional development session. You can put in the time frame you're looking for, either have it count up or count down, and go for it. You can download it for Mac or PC (haven't tried it that yet, but did try the count down for a time out for Joey and his rocket that ended up on my roof). They even have a LARGE version as well.

I once had some videos that did a 2 minute and a 5 minute count down, but lost them some computer changes ago. I like this tool so much better.

Quiz Builders and Subscriptions

Last week I did a blitz of training in Marion County for netTrekker. I am always amazed at what we find in training and the uses the teachers come up with. A small group of us had a discussion about the Saved Search feature verses bookmarking sites with Del.ic.ious or another program. The general thoughts were that the sites from netTrekker were educational and teacher approved and by using the Saved Search Feature they have a secure way of sharing the links with their students, with the ability to edit the descriptions to turn the save search into a "Web Hunt".
One of the features of the Saved Searches is to add a website that may or may not be in netTrekker. Great way to add on a site that you found in another search later or to add a site that is not currently in netTrekker. One example I often use is a quiz on the same topic. Normally we then look at adding a lesson or quiz from Discovery Streaming (formally unitedstreaming), but Marion County does not have this service. So it was time to look at others.
The first one that came to mind was Discovery School's, but it is not available. I'm told that they are revamping it for security purposes. I'm hoping it will still be free, but we'll see. The next one was's QuizStar. This use to be free, but I guess federal funding is bare minimum and so they are now charging after a 60 day free trial. The price is not too bad, only $35.88 for an individual teacher. It's pretty affordable (unless you're one of the WAY underpaid Hernando County teachers who make on average $10,000 less than their neighbors). There are other pricing options for groups and districts to make it even more affordable. But if you're going to pay $900 for a Quiz Program, why not look at adding that $900 to another program and get a lot more for your money.
There are other possibilities out there. One is to use a tool like Zoomerang to create a "survey". It won't grade your quiz for you, but it is interesting to use in the classroom. Another that's more of a profile tool that would be great to use for organizing groups is ProfilerPro. Another option is the Quiz Lab from Teacher Vision. The prices start around $40 a year for one user. Teacher Vision use to have a great product, but I'm not sure what they are like now adays. They are from Pearson, which might be a plus or a con for some. No opinion here.
If you're a Moodler, then you have options there as well. However, I wonder how our every day teachers who are not into the tools that you have so much control over like Moodle feel about this option. Of course, it's a free tool, you just have to find a space to host it.
What are some other options that I'm overlooking?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Training Mania

I got some great news this week - I'm going to GAETC! I have always enjoyed this state conference. The presenters are very knowledgeable and share some great new items and tricks of the trade. netTrekker will of course have a booth, so I'll work that some, but I also get to attend some of the wonderful sessions. YEAH! (I even enjoyed this conference more than my own when I was in SC!) I'm hoping to run into a few friends, like Katherine Aiken, LaQuita Hutchinson and others I had gotten to know through the DEN.

This past few days (and up until this Friday) I have been training in Marion County, FL. This district has been AWESOME at implementing netTrekker. They were quick to schedule their 8 days of training, printed out the letters for each school to send home with the students with their universal log in, and are working on other promotional items as I write to help promote the use of netTrekker in their school. Implementation strategies can really make or break a product and I firmly believe that Marion will be top users of netTrekker. Professional Development is always important, so it's equally great that they scheduled so many sessions to make sure that their teachers were trained.

One teacher yesterday admitted that they were a bit skeptical about why they were in training on a search engine from 8:30-3:30. How hard could it be to search? We do it everyday with Google or Yahoo. Well once we got into it they realized that netTrekker is OH SO MUCH MORE than a search. The tools that are involved to help with differentiated instruction and for other integration possibilities really make netTrekker a great tool for the classroom.

We did look at possibly adding a quiz to their save searches. Since they don't have unitedstreaming we looked at's Quiz Star. This use to be a free tool, but now you can only get a 60 day free trial and then you have to pay for it. At least RubiStar is still free.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Help Yourself

I love TIVO/DVR. While reading to Joey tonight (Bunnicula!), I was able to tape Heroes. Since I am in my insomniac stage right now (read the sleep disorder entry- I think they are related), I decided to stay up and watch it before going to bed.
If you follow Heroes, I apologize for this slight recap. I am not going to give anything away. Last week though, Micah's cousin mimicked a wrestling move and kept the place she works from being robbed. The police officer tried asking her questions in order to catch the guy. She realized that she couldn't say anything out of fear of him coming back for revenge. See, he's a drug thug who uses fear to keep people from ratting him out. When she wouldn't say anything to incriminate him, the officer shook his head and said, "I can't help a community that won't help itself."
What a powerful thought. We as educators can't help a student who doesn't want help. We can't help our school or even our own community unless they want the change.
But what in education needs help? There are so many elements that need work, so where do we begin? State/Federal government involvement to the point where education is nothing but pushing students towards acing a state test? Character education? Technology education? Meeting the 21st Century needs? Preparing our students to enter the workforce of our own community?
What about the community that doesn't want to be fixed, or the school that thinks they can't change? What about the school that says, "if we change, we lose our federal tax dollars - after all schools that are poor achievers get more money from the government."? What about the parent who doesn't believe an education is worthwhile, that it's all worthless in the end because their child will still be right there in the town, doing the same thing the mom or dad is currently doing? What can we do to inspire them? To help show them the way?
How can we get them to realize that we as educators can only help the student, the school, and the district that wants the help?
How can we get our communities to want to help themselves?

You know, deep thoughts don't help me go to sleep.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sleep and School

This morning on the Today Show they talked about how sleep and the lack of it is an issue for our students. They focused mainly on the teenagers, but I want to share with you my experiences with this issue.
My son, Joey, is 8. He's my pride and joy- no matter how aggravating and wild he can be. We've had problems in the past with behavior that the South Carolina doctors said was ADHD. They asked me about his sleeping habits, and I explained that he was not one who liked to fall asleep and it was usually easier to let him sit in my lap then fight with him about staying in bed. They simply said he was ADHD and told me to try my hardest to make him stay in bed. One friend of mine, a school psychologist, didn't buy the answer, but what could I do?
When we moved to Florida, his behavior became more erratic at school, having a feeding frenzy at night (finally coming off his ADHD drug) and more of a problem going to sleep. His doctor was against it because of his weight, but said he thought maybe Joey needed an increase of his ADHD drug. About a week and half later he had his first seizure.
We were referred to All Children's Hospital. Joey was taken off all drugs until further testing. Poor Mr. Froman dealt with him the best he could. I know we were ready to pull our hair out at home. Even Joey was confused and trying his hardest to make sense of what happened.
They did an EEG in the office and said he had irregular brain waves. They scheduled a 2 night sleep study/EEG test to see what was going on. We came home on Thanksgiving morning thankful that we finally had our answer. Joey was having mini-seizures that you almost couldn't tell were going on. They were like lights were on but nobody was home type deal. Sometimes he'd snap out okay, but other times he'd be confused and wouldn't understand what just happened, so he acted out. At night he was having episodes that if they were closer together would have been a full blown seizure, but instead they were keeping him from getting to the final round of sleep. Because of this disruption of sleep, his body and mind knew there was a problem at night time and he became anxious. He didn't want to go to bed and that's why bedtime was a nightmare for all of us. Seriously- this kid would sometimes not go to bed until 1 AM and that's just because of pure exhaustion taking over.
So now he's on medicine (Depakote, which James Patterson scared me about my son taking in one of his novels) for his seizures and a new pill (Vyvanse) for his ADHD. Then there's a little pill at night that helps him sleep. We're going back in on the 26th of October for another sleep study because it's believed that the previous dosage of medicine is not working. He's been having difficulty sleeping and more irritable at school again. Plus, his friend has told me he likes to stare a lot at school and the doctor thinks he's having more mini-seizures at school.
Why share all this? Well for one, to let you know that if this describes your little pride and joy, you're not alone. A second reason, Joey learned a lot of his ADHD behavior because of his sleep problems. If we had known more about the sleep issues and insisted on a sleep study, he probably would not have had some of the same behavior issues he has now. So if you're a teacher, at the next parent conference with a problem child, ask about the sleep behavior and then recommend that they talk to their doctor. Especially if they also seem to have staring spells during the day.

Friday, October 5, 2007

School Tube

Are you ready for another tube? YouTube is not always accessible for school purposes. TeacherTube is for the teachers. But what about the students? They want to share their creative rights of passage? Where can they go to upload videos that are school approved? Your answer...........SchoolTube! Just a baby now, but look out! I have a good feeling about it!

Staying Connected

A few years ago the only way a teacher could really stay connected was to be a part of a list-serv, attend conferences, read professional journals, maybe join a group online and that basically was about it. Then we were introduced to blogs, and teachers were no longer isolated until conference time, but able to reach out and really start communicating with others. Podasts, wikis, Twitter, and other tools have only enhanced this process.
Now we did have groups online- such as the one I was involved with "I Must Be Crazy- I Teach Middle School", and I did learn a lot from those folks. Great advice, great ideas. But there was little collaboration on projects and ideas.
Then Discovery opened things up with the Discovery Educator Network. I believe Apple had a teacher group first, but not sure. But the DEN (as we lovingly called it), really opened up collaboration, communicatin, and creativity for not just Apple users but all technology literate teachers. I loved the inspiration and power that came from the group of awesome teachers.
But if you are not a member of the DEN, don't have access to unitedstreaming or other Discovery products, what do you do? Well you join either Inspiration, Tech4Learning, Promethean, SMART, Yahoo, or Google's community and connect that way. You can even join any one of the NING groups, such as Karen Seddon's or Classroom 2.0. And now, there's another one that just popped up on my radar. STAR Online. Check it out and see what you think.
With so many choices out there, any and all teachers have a way to stay current on today's topics and trends. Then everyone would know what Digital Literacy and 21st Century Skills mean!

Thursday, October 4, 2007


I am having a hard time keeping quiet. But I promised. So let's play a game. How many of you have checked out Tech4Learning lately? Have you read their new Creative Magazine? Have you clicked on any links that might help you make new connections? What do you think about the site?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Prayers and Wishes

My son's first grade teacher was awesome. He was a young teacher, eager and willing to help the students succeed. He worked with Joey after school, on his own had many interventions, and was in constant contact via the phone and email. Absolutely a delight. When we were told he was moving up a grade for this year, we were excited and hoping Joey would have him. Well, he moved up to 3rd grade instead. I told Joey he'd have to work hard and hopefully have him again in 3rd grade.
Last week we were told that Mr. Froman had to be taken from the school. He was throwing up and violently ill. We were not sure if it was a heart attack or heat stroke. Today I heard it was a possible anneuryism and that he's in a coma. It does not look good. The school can't give us any information and no one knows where he is or what the truth is.
So Mr. Froman, here's a prayer from Joey, myself and the rest of our family. You're a rare great teacher that really has it together and the kids need you. We pray that God will let you continue here on Earth teaching our children and that you will be healthy again soon. You are much loved and respected by your students. Bless you!

I know what it's like to lose a teacher that is much loved, and it's got to be hard on the students. I wish the school could at least give us some information. My neighbor's son is in his class and he's lost without him. So anyone who is reading this, please send your prayers for a talented teacher who is very much missed by his students- Ernie Froman - for a speedy recovery.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Neccessary Technology

Today I was asked what I thought was neccessary in the means of technology in the classroom. What did I think the bare minimum should be in each classroom and what would be ideal. WOW! What a question! It's really a tough one to answer.

Of course we need at least 1 computer for the teacher and there I'd suggest a laptop, along with a projector. I would definitely suggest a SMART board, along with their response pads to really engage students. Inspiration, Internet (netTrekker), and of course unitedstreaming. If we're on a Mac, then iWorks. If we're not on a Mac (why not???), then Office or access to an "office" type program.

I would love for each student to have their own laptop (especially a Mac where they can really get creative!). If they had that, I need rollerskates. Or better yet, how about SynchronEyes. I had a simliar program that really assisted me when teaching in a lab, but I like to keep my programs running smoothly. If I'm going to get the SMART Board and response system, then let's stick with their software.

Creativity is a plus, and that's where Tech4Learning comes in. ImageBlender is my favorite, but any of their tools are great. MediaBlender and Twist would also be a great addition.

Access to blogs, wikis, and a place for students to collaborate is a major importance, especially since I'm trying to get my students ready for the 21st Century. How many will work as a "virtual employee" and will they be ready to manage their time and know how to work with others long distance?

I know I'm missing some things, so go ahead and add on. What do you think is important for today's classrooms?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Guitar Lessons

I started this post on Friday night but had to stop. Tried again on Sunday afternoon, but had to stop.
Joey had been asking for a guitar for awhile, and last Christmas I had decided to finally buy him one. Before I could, "Santa" - a good friend actually- sent him one for Christmas. We struggled to find an instructor that would work with an 8 year old, and then we struggled with an 8 year old who I wasn't so sure was ready for lessons. This week, I finally found an instructor and finally we started the lessons.
Friday afternoon, Joey and I raced to his first guitar lesson. He was so calm, I wasn't sure I had the right kid. He used his manners, really focused on his lesson, and was very good about the lesson being over. We taped the lesson using the iPod so he could review over and over when we got home. I don't think I needed to do that because instead when we got home he gave all of us a mini lesson again. There were a few times he'd say I'd have to listen to the recording to know the rest of the lesson, but boy did he practice!
And listening to the guitar being strummed over and over, him refusing to put it down until he was distracted by something else, kept me from writing the post. Saturday we spent the day together and then that night he gave a mini lesson before our movie to our neighbors. Then Sunday I sat down to do it again, but had to watch him practice instead.
My son does not want to learn to read, does not want to practice his school work, nothing. He doesn't do it well and has taken the low road and just refuses to face his weakness. The teasing and low self-esteem has won (hopefully temporarily). But with the guitar, the teacher praised him before he went into the lesson, praised him during, and praised him after. He treated him like an adult and did not talk down to him. He told him to patient and that he'll learn it piece by piece, but it would take practice. Joey accepted that. There was no fustration, except for the times I told him it was time to put it away.
I wonder if I did him harm at showing fustration and pushing him to learn to read, if his own teachers also showed any signs of strain, and forgot to keep things positive. He has a problem learning things the way other students do- some would call that a learning disability- but it's really a challenge. However I can't help thinking that maybe if we all kept things positive and didn't push him, he'd be begging me to let him read more and not to have to put the book away.
He'll want to practice again tonight. I bought him a book to help him and hoping we can read it together. I'll sneak in the reading with his new found passion.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Celebrate New Beginnings!

On December 6, 2006 the world stopped spinning for myself and some of my friends - the former Discovery Educator Network Managers. Some of them I hear from now and then, especially as they sign new contracts and move on with their lives. Which reminds me, I need to log in to Yahoo and see what's new with Linda and Gerard.
Anyway, tonight I received an email from Susan Staat - the former West Coast DEN manager. She signed for a new job, in a new district last Tuesday night and started Wednesday morning. She is a new Assistant Principal at a middle school. I had to call her right away and congratulate her! She's always been an elementary person so the grade level was a shock, but you know what? I think middle school is right up Susan's alley.
She's a great educator, a wonderful leader, and she'll make a great administrator. My only advice Susan is to keep your sense of humor, because in middle school, you need it.
To the rest of the DEN managers - I hope you all found a job that makes your heart happy and pays the bills. Best of wishes as the new school year begins.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Virtual Playground - again

I have said this before on another post and actually was slammed because I said I understood it might cost. Sorry, I don't have the skill, the knowledge, or the time to create what I'm about to talk about. Wes Fryer mentioned it on his blog recently. And after today's training, I just don't see how we're going to get around it.
Currently I am doing a workshop on Integration of netTrekker with other tools and in the classroom. We were going to use PBWiki, but it's blocked. We can get to WikiSpaces though. Hmmm. We can't get to Twitter or Email or, but I can get to my blog here on Blogspot. It just blocks out the toolbar up top. I couldn't get to Bubble-Share or SlideShare. We were suppose to do a Google Trek - but the teachers won't have access to Google Earth. Going to change the lesson using Google Maps instead. They loved ToonDoo, and they created some cute toons (here's mine), but they also found some disturbing toons - one specifically relating to the Virginia Tech Shooting. I couldn't even get to my website because it's uploaded to my .Mac account.
I truly understand the reason for filters and for being blocked. I don't blame the schools one bit. We need to educate the students and yet, we still need to protect them. Yes - we need to teach the ethical use of the tools and encourage them to only do what they are suppose to do, but come'on! They are kids and they are going to test the limit and see what they can get away with.
Instead, we need a playground of Web2.0 tools that students can share photos from class field trips of historic or scientific sites, blog about the latest book they read or about their current event (which makes more sense than cutting out an article and bringing it to class), post their videos that they created about any given educational topic, collaborate with others, create and share and not worry about WHY it's being filtered from the system. If we had something in place - maybe with ads that were geared towards the textbooks or other popular sites to support it or as a paid subscription, then I think it will work. I want a safe alternative that a school can use without fear of what might pop up. I want teachers to be able to teach and not to add another item to their juggling act. Yeah, some of you might be able to use these tools- but you're probably one of the fortunate ones who have leaders with an understanding of technology integration/use and somehow are just ahead of the game of everyone else.
So I decided this week while I'm in Texas and when I get back to Florida, I'm going to play the lottery. I don't usually - but I'm going to. And if I win - I want to hire educators who are really good at technology use and integration to help design this playground for the students of web 2.0 (and just creative) tools. I'll fund it - you build it. Deal?
Now what numbers should I play?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Classroom Pet

I know a teacher back home in South Carolina who loved having lots of class pets, but one year had to get rid of the hamster (someone was allergic), the spider and snake (a student was petrified of them), the turtle because a parent complained they were unsanitary and her bird (forget the reason). Only the fish remained. She was a third grade teacher and she said that pets in the classroom really helped teach responsibility.
I think I'll send her a Webkinz this year for her class. Think about it - anyone who does not get their tag pulled, lose a color, or whatever you do to keep track of discipline in your classroom- has a chance to play for 10 minutes in the "WebKinz" world. They can't spend the money unless it's to buy the food for the day. Then on Friday, as a class, you can purchase another room, new furniture, and other fun stuff. Your pet's happiness and health are monitored, there are some great educational questions in there, the responsibility to feed your pet healthy food choices, and so much more also turns it into a learning reward system. Just make sure that even the kid who can't sit still and gets on your last nerve gets a chance to interact with your webkinz.
And I haven't met a kid yet who's allergic to a computer (that's kept clean), you can't get sick from a computer (that a teacher keeps clean), and who's going to be petrified of a Webkinz? (Just make sure you clean your computer - and there's no excuse!)
I think I'll get my son's teacher one this year for the class.


I am on the Spirit Committee for my community's HOA here in Brooksville, FL. Part of our job on the Spirit Committee is to plan events around the community. For instance, next Friday we are holding a Back To School Celebration and Chili Cookoff. We have no money for advertising so we are using word of mouth, email and printed out flyers that we are donating to the event. Instead of having one person responsible for RSVP, we are using our wiki to sign-up and tell us what they are bringing. It's great because then we don't end up with a BBQ of all Baked Beans and without any of the paper products. Plus, no one has to be responsible for taking the phone calls.
Lately though I haven't wanted to be apart of the Spirit Committee. There's a lot of nagging and little issues going on. The community wants a newsletter, but we have no budget for one and I'm not going out to sell ads in order for us to have a free one. No one wants their HOA dues increased to give us a fund for the newspaper. So we're stuck in a catch 22. There are other things too, but mainly those who are not involved in the Spirit Committee like to dampen the spirits of those of us who are.
Tonight I spoke to a first year teacher at Wal-Mart. She was buying some school supplies with a graduation gift card and were all excited about the first year of teaching in a neighboring district. Then she stopped, made a sad little face and admitted that some of the other teachers though are dampening her spirits. She explained how she learned how to use a lot of technology in her college courses, knowing that not all schools have access to much, but that she was excited and ready to try some of these fun and creative lessons. I guess her new school not only doesn't have a lot of technology, but they are not into technology. I asked her about that and she gave me a couple of the reasons. One of their reasons? "Why do we want to spend money on technology when it's just going to break or collect dust because no one wants to use it." I asked her if she asked why no one would want to use it and she said that the teachers told her once she met her kids, she'd understand. Her spirits were already starting to sag.
That's a shame.
I know I'm not an official educator anymore since I'm out of the classroom, but my heart is still in education. I'm even working for an educational technology company who's motto is to go do something good for the kids. Anyway, one of my pet peeves though has always been when new teachers come in so excited and so ready for the first day and these veteran teachers instead kill their spirits and make them dread the first day.
I encourage all veteran teachers this year to suggest to these new teachers places like Scholastic's New Teacher Resource Section or to join a community like Inspiration, Discover Educator Network, Yahoo Teachers or some community found on Ning so they can find people to talk to, learn from, and connect with. Introduce them to some great blogs to read so they can continue to learn and grow. Make sure they know which resources they do have available to them (and if they have netTrekker, check out the teacher tools section with the great resources for any teacher -new or old!). Be patient with them as they learn the ropes.And check on them every once in awhile, even if it's to just say hi.
I'm sure that readers of blogs are not the grumpy teachers out there that like to kill the spirit of other teachers, so I don't need to ask you not to kill their spirit. Instead, you can intercept these grumpy kill-joys and spread some grounded happiness.
That's what I decided to do with my personal community. Each time they point out what we're lacking, I'm going to point out how we've adapted. Sure we don't have a newspaper that gets printed 6 times a year. We do have a pretty up to date Wiki that anyone is welcome to edit and add information so it's always current and useful. Sure we don't have a budget for our get togethers but we do get together so we can share culinary treats from our own kitchens to help break the ice.
Sure you don't have a lot of technology and your kids are not always thankful for the hardwork you go through each day, but you know you are doing something good for the kids
and someday they will send a thank you to you- whether just a silent one whispered where no one else hears it or they come back to show you what a success you've made them.
Just don't lose your spirit along the way.

Have a great year as you go do something good for the kids!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Meme of 8 Random Facts

Meme. Sounds like a name a kid calls his grandmom, more specifically what the McAllister boys call their Grandmom Linda.

But in the computer world, it's more like a game and if you get tagged or feel compelled to answer a set of questions (like when Wes started a meme about Internet Speed), then you follow the rules. And I've been tagged. Actually, I feel it quite an honor because I was tagged by someone I don't know and actually have started reading through all her blog posts. Yet, as Tom says "I digress" and it's time to get to the point.

First the rules:
  1. Post these rules before you give your facts.
  2. List 8 random facts about yourself.
  3. At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names, linking to them.
  4. Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they’ve been tagged.

Eight Random Facts About ME

  1. My favorite singer/band is Bon Jovi. Always been a fan, probably always will. And I think that's the only concert I'll pay to go to again anytime soon. Even putting a juke box in my office with Bon Jovi 45's. Yes, 45's!
  2. My original major in college was Children's Theatre at Columbia College. I wanted to work for Disney and produce family movies. I even got to be a Patchwork Player during the Christmas of 1992. I played Master Johnny and Little Tommy in an original play by Jeannie Eaker.
  3. My ultimate day of professional development would include sessions with Wes Fryer, Steve Dembo, Vickie Davis, and Jennifer Dorman. These people are passionate about education, technology and how these two should work together. (I actually have a list of people I want to see present someday. This is just a start.)
  4. My favorite show is CSI: Las Vegas, but I cover my eyes for a good bit of the show because I don't like blood and guts. I became hooked when living with my brother last year. Some day I want to be a dead body on their show. Or a possible witness to a murder. Even have a script in mind. And if I'm not the dead body, I know who I want to have killed. (insert evil laugh)
  5. I don't have a life, so I read. Romance Novels like Nora Roberts, Vickie Lewis Thompson, Rachel Gibson, Sandra Brown, Chris Kuzneski and JK Rowling (what's next now that Harry is finished? A series about Dumbledore? Please!)
  6. I am now a Mac person and am really hating the PC I have to use for work. I've converted a few others I know. Just came back from spending over $2000 of my neighbor's money getting her set up with a Mac and iPod accessories.
  7. I once won a Best of the Best Presentation Award from ISTE ,the Inspiration Scholarship 3 times and Tech4Learning's Innovative Educator.
  8. My biggest fear when I started with Discovery Educator Network was that I had to blog. I was sure I was not going to meet my goal. By the time of our departure in December, I had the #2 read blog in the DEN and exceeded my goal of posts something like 3 times over.

Okay, now to tag people. Sorry ya'll! I hope you haven't been tagged yet.

1. Steve Dembo 2. Wes Fryer 3. Karen Seddon 4. Jennifer Dorman 5. Joan Denahy 6. Marsha Cruce 7. Jennifer Gingrich 8. Lee Kolbert

Friday, August 3, 2007

What's the Big Deal with the Web?

There's an interesting article on the Newsvine about how Second Life with dwarf the web soon. I am not much of a Second Lifer, as I've said in the past, I need to catch up on my first life. Not only that but I keep coming across some things that make me go "hmmmm." For instance, I was trying to get to Kathy Shrock's place on the web and I ended up in some nudist party. I checked the location - and it was right, but technology messed up on the other end and I ended up in a dance I didn't want to be in.
However, there are many virtual worlds out there, and Second Life was not the first, nor will it e the last. Some of the images that Tom Clancy's Net Force Series bring to mind make me think of Second Life actually.
It wasn't the thought of Second Life though that really got me interested in the article. It was a comment later from someone tagged as "Deep Thought".

"Information actually lower down the list, as most people find it difficult to tell the difference between legitimate information and junk. Also, most people use the Internet in their spare time and tend to want to relax, not learn anything. MySpace, YouTube and Facebook are hardly educational."

I guess I'm one of those freaks that turn to the Internet for information. I remember the first time I was online. It was in an office, above a bank in Florence, SC. I was there to help this guy from college study for Biology - not my best subject but I was a lot better than he was. It was November 1, 1993. Why do I remember the date? Because River Phoenix had just died. That was the first thing I found out on the Internet, right there on Yahoo's main page. I actually read about more deaths online than I do in the obituaries- one section of the paper I try to avoid. At that point in time, the Internet became a fascinating place to find information on many topics. I hope I've learned over the years how to tell the difference between legitimate information and junk.
As a matter of fact, that's what most educators teach. They teach students how to research using the Internet, how to collaborate, and communicate. They teach how to remain safe, how to tell a good site from the bad, and how to decide which tool would be useful for them. And while MySpace, FaceBook and YouTube are not really educational, teachers have found ways to use tools like these to reach their students or to just get out of the hole of their classroom and connect with other educators from around the world, not just their own school/district.
But what's the big deal with the web? You can teach your students how to create a video without it, but how would they validate their hardwork? Not with a grade- that's so old school! Students can use Word without the Internet, create a PowerPoint without SlideShare, and so much more. Before the web they knew how to pass notes (the old fashioned text messaging and Twitter) and therefore knew how to communicate. We had encyclopedias, newspapers and other material to research from.
I'd say the big deal with the web is the ability to find more than one side or opinion on any given topic, communicate in REAL TIME with other students, upload and get feedback on something they created, and yes, even play a video game in a virtual world. Yeah, you can do without Internet (God Forbid!) for a workshop. There's always a work around. But in real life, that's where the students are going. Teach them the right way. Otherwise, borrowing a quote, "The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded. "
And if that includes proper behavior in a virtual world, then prepare them. Because while Second Life may not be THE virtual world in 10 years, they are becoming even more prevalent. While SL has a teen grid and an adult grid, your little students can even participate in virtual worlds with WebKinz, Nicktropolis, and even the newly acquired Disney site Club Penguin .
And those are just a SMALL number of virtual sites aimed at kids.
There are some other great comments on the article that started this train of though. The fact that virtual worlds has not caught on is because of the hardware limitations on current machines is probably a huge factor. My MacBook Pro does not like to run Second Life and I must restart right after if I do use it.
My thoughts have been interrupted again. Ouch. Between Twitter, the phone, email, kids on summer break, my other phone, and my parents - how can I handle a second life? And since I'm suppose to be working, let me just leave you with this final tidbit. If you're an educator interested in more on Second Life, check out Kathy Schrock, Discovery Educator Network, and ISTE for places to start.

When is it okay to delete?

I have not had a need to do this in a long time, but today I deleted comments. I was appalled that someone would actually use a curse word on a comment, but they did. I don't think they know who or what I was talking about, I was offended by their language, and so I deleted the comment. Is that okay?
Normally I'd say no. Blogs are about open communication and being able to share ideas freely. If you don't want someone to disagree with you, then don't post it. I'm pretty good at walking the wire. If you're going to delete comments, well then you're not really being open in your discussions. No open mind, no need to blog. Sort of like the politician who blogged, but didn't allow responses because he didn't want to hear what the public truly thought. I want to say he was in Illinois, but I could be wrong. The Discovery Educator Network members and field managers were impressed that Discovery allowed the blogs and discussion boards to openly allow people to vent after the December 6 meltdown. They keep an open mind.
However, I do have a few readers, and those few readers actually read it in their school. Why do I want to give ammunition to the school administrators to block blogs when my own blog has a bad word on it - thanks to a comment? When I worked for Discovery, Steve had to delete a comment that was more on the lines of a bot spamming the site (Lady of the night and her offerings).
We want our students to blog- because face it, blogging has become their world. If they blog their homework response about whatever they read and relate it to their own world, they are more likely to retain the information and to pay attention in class. More likely to do the homework too. That whole point relates to a blog I read earlier. Anyway, back on topic. In the blogging world though, we don't always know who will be commenting and we don't know what people are going to say. There's a product out there now for school blogging that I really don't like. I don't like it because I found a whole bunch of student accounts and their blogs were not educational at all! I don't think the teacher was reading them because if they were they would have known who was planning to skip class, who was not doing work in the library but playing a game, and stuff. They actually turned it more into a Twitter application.
If you blog with your students, then this is what I suggest:
  • Create settings that only registered users can comment. A few students might want to comment anonymously and have great reasons to, but by only allowing registered users to comment, you are protecting the outside world from leaving inappropriate comments.
  • Check the blogs your students write, along with comments, and frequently. If you start something, finish it all the way through. If they are going to have access to it over the holidays, then you need to check it through the holidays.
  • Make sure the site is safe. There are plenty of them out there. Some are free, some cost. Some parents wouldn't mind paying a few $$ to help with these costs, so keep your options open.
  • Each student should have an agreement of ethical behavior for any and all online activities on file, signed by parents. I don't care if you're an elementary teacher using WebKinz in your class and you allow the student of the week access to the site and to take care of the virtual class pet. Sign an agreement and file it away.
  • Model what you preach. If you want ethical behavior from your students, make sure you also display ethical behavior, even with your private online persona. I'm sure the kids can find that MySpace page, personal blog, or other item. Be smarter than they are.
You can learn more by reading works by such greats as David Warlick and Will Richardson.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

eBook Reader

I have a passion for reading, but my son is a very reluctant reader. I've bought him books on every subject I can think of to encourage him to read. I even agree to read shark books with him, but nothing has made him interested in even trying to learn to read.
Today there was an article in the eSchool News about eBooks becoming more popular in schools. Can you imagine having all of your textbooks on the reader? That sure will lighten the backpack! I didn't read the entire article - yet. But it got me thinking. I want an eBook reader that will either highlight and read the words back to the student or let them click on a word and get the word sounded out, the definition, and any other needed information. Sort of like what netTrekker does for the web for students. I don't necessarily want it to read the entire book to them, but just enable them if needed.
I need to learn more about the Sony Reader, although I doubt I'll be able to afford it anytime soon. Anyone know of a kid friendly reader?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

I'm a Kid at Heart

I use to get into trouble at my old school district for saying things like "Today we played with PowerPoint" or "Today we're going to play around on the web", even though the PowerPoints were their science projects and the Internet was research based. I'm one of those that believe in the power of play - whether it's structured or free-flowing. (At times though, structured play works best. Classroom time is one of those times.)
So I love that right now I have the opportunity to play with new tools. I especially love the free tools. Woo hoo! I'm learning more and more from Twitter each day.
One of the greatest things about the Mac is the screen capturing capabilities. It's so much easier. But then you have to still take it into a program to add any text boxes or anything else you need to add. I mentioned earlier that I got one of those wonderful copies of Skitch, and I finally tried it out today. Didn't take me long to create this today. Just take a snapshot - or use your camera - and add details where needed. Not too bad. And it was quick. I really spent less than 5 minutes learning the program and doing this. WOO HOO!

But wait, this is only for my Mac. What about when I have to work on my PC? (I'm one of those who absolutely refused to do the Windows side with Boot Camp. Why deface a thing of beauty? But I have to use a PC for work purposes.) What do I do then? Well then, I would use Jing. So cool! And it's actually for PC or Macs. You can create a simple video cast or image, with all sorts of draw tools. Then you can get a link for your screencast! The video by the way even records AUDIO! The first time, I did this, I didn't realize it and had Sponge Bob in the back. You can still slightly hear him, but I re-did it and added the audio. You can check it out here.

And I learned all this on Twitter.

Oh this is tough. Which tool do I want to use?

I'm a Kid at Heart

I use to get into trouble at my old school district for saying things like "Today we played with PowerPoint" or "Today we're going to play around on the web", even though the PowerPoints were their science projects and the Internet was research based. I'm one of those that believe in the power of play - whether it's structured or free-flowing. (At times though, structured play works best. Classroom time is one of those times.)
So I love that right now I have the opportunity to play with new tools. I especially love the free tools. Woo hoo! I'm learning more and more from Twitter each day.
One of the greatest things about the Mac is the screen capturing capabilities. It's so much easier. But then you have to still take it into a program to add any text boxes or anything else you need to add. I mentioned earlier that I got one of those wonderful copies of Skitch, and I finally tried it out today. Didn't take me long to create this today. Just take a snapshot - or use your camera - and add details where needed. Not too bad. And it was quick. I really spent less than 5 minutes learning the program and doing this. WOO HOO!

But wait, this is only for my Mac. What about when I have to work on my PC? (I'm one of those who absolutely refused to do the Windows side with Boot Camp. Why deface a thing of beauty? But I have to use a PC for work purposes.) What do I do then? Well then, I would use Jing. So cool! And it's actually for PC or Macs. You can create a simple video cast or image, with all sorts of draw tools. Then you can get a link for your screencast! ( . The video by the way even records AUDIO! The first time, I did this, I didn't realize it and had Sponge Bob in the back. You can still slightly hear him, but I re-did it and added the audio. You can check it out here:

And I learned all this on Twitter.

Oh this is tough. Which tool do I want to use?

Daily Lit

Anyone who really knows me, knows I love to read. I also don't usually travel without at least one or two books with me. I'm not talking about ASCD, ISTE, or other educational books, but rather paperback novels that let me escape my ho-hum life and be a voyeur in someone else's. Harry Potter Series, Sandra Brown, Nora Roberts, etc. But besides being bad at reading the books of the trade, I'm also pretty sad at not reading the classics. For instance, I've never read Pride and Prejudice. I know -that's horrible of me. I always found a way around it, and I'm one who truly believes that if you don't want to read the book- don't. Try reading a couple of pages, but if it does not intrigue you, then it's a waste of your time. Books - the written word - should be appreciated for the images, passion, thoughts, and more that they deliver.
And I'm not one who can listen to a book. Those actually drive me crazy. My mind wanders if my eyes are not engaged. Not good. I tried listening to a Dan Brown book and I think I missed something like 4 chapters before realizing I wasn't paying attention. Not good. Audio books are not for me.
Anyway, I've heard of sites where you can download books that are classics from various authors for free. Sometimes even finding the audio to go along with the novel of choice. However, they were usually bulky and did not really grab my interest. Until today. I finally found a service that I think I'll be addicted to.
DailyLit is a site that delivers installments to your email. Everyone - unless they are twittering - has time to read emails. Easy to read whenever you have a few minutes to read the items in your inbox. You might be even able to hide it from your boss - but I wouldn't tempt fate. Anyway, you can search by category, title, and by author and select which book you want to start with from there. I started with Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, and I have to admit - I'm captivated. I am looking forward to five o'clock when I can go to the end of the email and click on "Next Installment" and read what happens next.
Already read all the books by Alexander Dumas the old fashioned way. Maybe I'll finally get around to reading "Wuthering Heights."
I'd pay for this service with some of those professional books. Nice little chunks. Manageable. Perfect.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Wasted Technology

There were times I would attend a conference, casually talk to other teachers, or whatever and hear about all this technology that they had available to them, but weren't using. The reason was usually that they weren't trained and therefore didn't know how to integrate the tools available.

I also remember a few of my resourceful teachers who made do without a projector. Instead they used scan converters, but with one TV - that's not always a good choice. These teachers took it one step further. I told you, they were resourceful. They went to stores and begged for older TV's that were no longer the hot seller or somehow damaged on the outside (dent, marks) and wouldn't sell right, went to garage sales, and any other places they could think of to get cheap TVs. They then connected NOT one TV, but several to the scan converter and scattered them around the room. One science teacher had a TV in each corner and one on each side (total of 6) that showed her monitor. It was really cool and the students loved it! Everyone could see.

So it upsets me when I see wasted technology. I'm not talking about the iPods that sit in a display window, because those usually get sold at some point. I'm talking about the ring of TVs in Houston Airport in Terminal E that are only used for aesthetics and show blue, red and then images on each of the 50+ monitors. Instead, sponsor some art materials or an art scholarship and have the students create a visual for that space. Donate the TV's to the school. The Mall of Millennium has a couple of really neat monitors that are used for fashion designs and other images. I guess that one shouldn't bother me so much, but it does.

I understand that some of the technology is there for entertainment or advertisement purposes. Not all is a total waste. I'll give that. But that ring of TV's just really bother me. The images were not that great, and all it did was cause people to stop, look around, shake their head and ask "What's the point?"

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Reason to Twitter

I have to scream a huge "THANK YOU!" to Steve Dembo. Even though we no longer work together (sniff, sniff) - I still learn so much from him. He's an awesome inspiration. He was one of the influences for me turning to a Mac user, got me blogging, and now Twittering. He gave me a great reason to head back to it and give it some serious attention. I've been learning a lot. I love clicking on the tiny URL's in the tweets and just a look into the everyday life of people. Some are addicted. I don't date - but even I know not to tweet on a date Wes! :D
Anyway, so thanks to Twitter and Steve Dembo, I am now following another amazing educator and he's going to "hook me up" with a beta test of a cool Mac program. I'm excited! Thrilled! Steve told me, via Twitter, to ping ijohnpenderson and ask him to "hook me up". I did, and he is!
Looking forward to playing, I mean experimenting. If it's half as cool as I keep hearing, I bet it'll become one of my favorite programs. But I wouldn't have had this opportunity if I didn't network with other people. I don't believe I have ever met John Penderson in person, but Steve was able to connect us. It's amazing. I encourage all educators - heck, everyone - to learn how to network and not be a "hermit". That's so easy to do, and there are some awesome people to learn from in so many ways. You don't always have to attend an event face to face to really learn or connect.
Now, time to get back to work.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Twitter Thoughts

I'm in training right now for the Turning Point Response system. They are pretty easy to use. I can't say the same for my new laptop. I have really become a MAC user. One of the things I didn't realize I wasn't doing anymore is accidently moving my cursor while typing. I'm dong it again on the PC. Need to figure out what I'm doing so I don't do it anymore.

Anyway, in catching up on my feeds this morning, I noticed that Cool Cat Teacher mentioned the Twitter Debate. As you notice from my "Twitter Party Badge", I'm new to Twitter. I've enjoyed reading everyone else's Twitters, but Im just getting use to adding my own. I only seem to be able to do it when I go to the page, but I was told I should be able to use the instant messaging tool.

But is it useful? I'm beginning to think so. As I follow others, I learn some interesting thoughts that would have been lost otherwise. Just quick little tidbits that give me something else to research or read. The note about the PBWiki from Bud the Teacher was great and much appreciated. I use wikispaces usually, but PBWiki is worth looking into. The twitter from Tom about Woot's SD cards would be very much appreciated if I was able to get my credit card out of my purse and purchase without everyone knowing what I'm up to. Chris Craft shared a bit about slidecasting with SlideShare - and he made me think of a PhotoStory alternative for when I'm in a MAC environment and for some reason I don't want to use one of the awesome Mac tools.

Can I see it being used in schools? That's the tough one. I like being connected to the professionals and not feeling alone. I like the sense of community that the Web 2.0 brings. But Twittering in the classroom with students I think could end up being too distracting. I can see it being used in Professional Development, amongst teachers, but with students - we'll, not really convinced there. After they get home - yes, I can see a way to use it. An algebra student is struggling with a problem, they twitter that and might be able to find someone to help them. A History Fair Project participant needs to find someone to interview or a resource, and they can find what they need. Just like we are

Would love to take a webinar on Twittering.....hint, hint.

I'll add the links later. I need to start paying attention again.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


I am a person who likes rules and believe that most of them are there to protect us in one way or another. I am also a big fan of the copyright laws and acts, and believed they should be followed. So I've been very hesitant to work on a mash up or digital video or whatever it would turn out to be, using audio clippings from the latest Harry Potter movie (that I have seen now 3 times). Am I legal? Can I go ahead and do what I want? It's about 5 minutes total of audio sounds. Hmmmm.
And since we're talking about Harry Potter and Copyright, I'm very excited about the latest and last installment of Harry's adventure and dealings with the Dark Lord. I thought it was interesting that someone posted it online and that they cannot legally be in trouble because they are Sweden? Hello! Sweden, don't you have any artists that you want to protect the rights of? I did try to download it, and was successful. I peeked, but then trashed it. It's probably the real thing, but you know what - I want to wait until Friday at midnight to get my copy. I want to read it all day on Saturday (after the Safety Fair), on Sunday and then while traveling to Ohio next week. I want to enjoy JK Rowling's works the way they are meant to be enjoyed.
But am I just a stick in the mud? Is it okay to break copyright laws no matter where we live? As frustrating as they may be, are they not there to protect us, especially if we ever get a great idea that starts on a napkin?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Dispersed Teams

I have been working from home since January of 2006. I have to laugh when people think that this means I have all the time in the world and so forth. Let me tell you, it's not easy - especially in the summer with an active child at home. Luckily Scott Kinney gave us all a great book about working on dispersed teams, building trust within the team, getting to know the team, and how to effectively work together. That's probably the toughest, learning how to work with people you don't know and probably will only see face-to-face 4 times a year.
So now I'm working for another company -yes, it's official - I'm with netTrekker as the Georgia and Florida Customer Service Rep. Again, I am lucky to be working with a great team of experienced people who I am sure I will learn something from.
Today I attended the Teaching and Learning Institute with the Florida Digital Educators in Gainesville, FL where my focus was netTrekker and the 21st Century. (Email me for the presentation!) On the side I was talking about collaboration and how we use blogs and wikis to really share our ideas. I even shared how my community is using a Wiki to sign up for events and share news. An interesting thought started running through my head - another plug for really collaborating in and out of the classroom.
More than likely many of our students are going to work on virtual/dispersed teams of some sort. They might be dispersed by time shifts or locations, but there will be a dispersement going on. How will they communicate and stay on track with one another? My dad, when he worked in a plant in South Carolina, depended on email. The workers all checked the data, read the memos and knew what was going based on the emails sent to them at work. With today's teams we can use wikis, but the trick is getting them used.
If our elementary students are using Wikis to collaborate in the classroom on group projects, when they get to middle school the students will be ready to collaborate with another class on a project. Then when they get to high school a teacher can actually take the next step and partner with a class in another school - whether it's in their district or outside of their district. How cool would it be for a teacher to plan a lesson with another teacher in lets say Australia? Oh! I know, they could plan a lesson teaching conservation and endangerment and the central figure could be the Sea Cow. Australia also has these beautiful creatures, so it's perfect project for a Florida teacher and Australia to team up for. The students would all have to plan a project, collaborate via email and or their wiki and then create a project. Using PhotoBucket, SlideShare, any of the Google Apps, this should be easy enough to work out. The rubric could be created (I personally love Tech4Learning's rubric maker) and the teachers could grade the students on collaboration and the outcome. It may not be perfect, especially the first time, but it really will get the students introduced to working on a dispersed team.
And then when they want to work for a company that has a huge presence in their area, but not an office, they can honestly say they know how to work on a "virtual team" and are the perfect candidate for the job.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Fun shirts

Tom and I were chatting earlier about shirts. I really am thinking about splurging on the Harry Potter shirt that says "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good" and on the back "Mischief Managed". The actual shirt I want is only sold in junior sizes. Well I'm still debating on which shirt I want and trying to talk myself out of it when I came across this site. This goes back to the addiction thing we mentioned earlier. CafePress has some great shirts, and I originally went there to check out the unique Harry Potter shirts , but started looking at the great tech shirts instead. So now I'm torn. Harry Potter or a blogging tshirt? (Click on the link to "I'm torn"!)

K12 Online Conference

Looking to attend a great conference, but really don't have the funds or time to travel? I keep hearing wonderful things about the K12 Online Conference, but each year mess up and schedule something else. Well this year, I have marked it in my iCal, so hopefully I won't make that mistake yet again! The list of presenters look awesome and I can't wait to get the times so I can really block off all the time I need. :-)


I have terrible addictions, such as biting my nails, blabbering, reading novels and not always "professional" type books, and so forth. But an addiction to blogging? Yes, when I was with Discovery I'd say I was 100% addicted. But now? Well, after reading Tom's blog, I had to test my own blog addiction. My score was 78%, but it probably could be higher. For one, I read blogs in various different ways. I love my feedblitz, but there are a few that I actually click on each day to read, such as Marsha's, Moving at the Speed of Creativity with Wes Fryer, the Discovery Blogs (I know, I should just subscribe to them), Inspiration, a few others and two different Harry Potter blogs. And I downplayed the amount of time I read because it really does vary. One day I spent about 6 hours, another 8, but I usually keep it to about 1.

Anyway, 78% is a bit high personally. What's your addiction level?

78%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Mingle2 - Online Dating

Saturday, July 7, 2007


I lead the most exciting life on Earth. I really do! Tonight I went - for the second time - to see Transformers . So now you know that I'm dripping with sarcasm when I said that I live the most exciting life on Earth.

For those of you who have not seen Transformers, I encourage you to go see it. It was a pretty good movie. Tonight I took my son and a friend of his from down the street. Sebastian asked me why did Megatron want to kill all the humans and take over our world. So I explained what deceit means and how it relates to the Decepticons. Then I explained how "Barricade" had the Decepticon motto on the side of his police car, "Punish and enslave". Where was I going with all of this? I then ended it with how Optimus Prime and the Autobots believed that we should all have choices and be free to make those choices, but that Megatron didn't believe in free will or equal treatment and wanted to deceive the technology into taking over the world. Decepticons wanted to destroy while the Autobots wanted to protect.

The kid looked at me and said, "So Megatron and the Decepticons are like slavery and the Autobots are like America and freedom."

WOW! So if you're teaching slavery this year, no matter what continent or era, try relating it to Transformers. A rising second grader made a pretty good argument explaining how.

Then we started talking about going back to school and how excited they would be when they do get to go back. Joey's interested in the social promises, but not the learning. Sebastian is a learner, so he's excited about both aspects of school. I was driving and they were playing in the dark with Transformers in the back seat. I asked the boys what they liked the most in a teacher. Both like fun teachers who are not mean, who don't yell, and who make you want to learn. Then Joey said, "I got it! Decepticons are the mean teachers and Autobots are the fun teachers who let you make your own choices!"

He's right. Decepticon teachers are very much like our old way of thinking and teaching. They keep everyone in rows, they have a level of authority, and there is no free will. Autobot type teachers educate their students on how to make the right choices, encourage creativity, and then allow the students to make choices. Free to choose.

And I'm sure most educators out there agree that our Education System needs to be transformed into the 21st Century with Optimus Prime's belief of "choices" at the core center.

I'm also sure that you all would agree that I need a life!

Time Bank

What a cool concept! Basically a time bank is where you donate an hour or so of your time doing something for someone else in an area that you're strong in, like teaching how to use a digital camera, and then you earn a time dollar to spend by having someone else teach you something you want to learn, such as Yoga. The more you do for others, the more time dollars you earn to learn or get help from others in return.

Why post this on a blog about education? Simple. Students need to learn about service learning, and it's part of the Twenty First Century Skills (social responsibility). If your school sets up a "Time Bank", students can tutor younger students or their peers, and then cash in to learn something new from another Time Bank Contributor. For instance, you have one of these really smart kids who right now is ignored by the jocks and popular kids. This kid though is BRILLIANT at math and science and has a knack for helping others understand those tough subjects as well. However, this kid is scrawny and weak when it comes to physical strength. Now look at another student who is struggling in school, such as an athlete. (I hate stereotyping here, especially since at my old high school for the past 7 years an athlete has held the salutatorian and valedictorian spot). Anyway, pair these two up and the athlete can learn from the book smart student and then the book smart student can learn from an athlete.

Still not so sure. Okay, look at this scenario. You have a high school student who tutors a younger student for two hours a week for free. However, this kid would really like to take a digital photography class or another sort of lesson. The younger student can't help him out, but since he belongs to the "Time Bank" he cashes his "Time Dollars" in for lessons with another patron to learn digital photography. That person who teaches the high schooler digital photography cashes her dollars in for resume help.

Anyway, neat concept and so much that a school/district can do with it. Think about it.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Passionate Careers

When I taught Career Choices, I always told my students to start with things they love to do and then investigate what type of careers are available from there. We always looked at odd jobs, entry level positions that lead to great positions, how much of an education you would need, salary expectations, cost of living, and how fast to expect to move up and start earning what they dreamed about.

Most of my students, like many of yours I'm sure, said they were going to be a great basketball player or football player. Why not? Ray Allen came from our town, why couldn't they be the next hot shot? But we looked up biographies of the players and showed them how they all had a back up plan. They went to college for more than playing sports. Buffalo Bills' Jim Kelly became a very profitable business man. I met another football player who won at least one Super Bowl Ring (but I forget his name and with which team) and when he retired he opened his own catering business in Columbia, SC. So always have a back up plan.

Well according to an article in eSchool News, sports are now taking a new edge. Science is taking ahold of students love of sports and turning it into a real career possibility. When I taught fifth grade, we did look at Sports Science, especially the science of hockey, with Exploratorium. But now, it's a real possible career field with more than $400 billion waiting for people to put to use in testing and designing the best. What a great way to really get the students to pay attention to science class. And usually the students who are really into the sport understand the sciences of how and why things happen and what is needed to get improved results. If we as educators embrace their passions and find a way to teach them the standards, well we have a winning combination.

The possibilities are endless. Especially with technology. Someone who's not very smart about sports have the power of technology at hand. (I still don't get baseball. I thought it was all about enjoying time with Joey and my family, socializing with friends, enjoying cracker jacks and hot dogs, but someone said that there really men who hit baseballs and run the bases. Someone recently told me I was wrong.)

And admit it, it is important to love what you do, or else - your career is really just a job.