Wednesday, March 28, 2007

This past Saturday I made a remark to teachers that the only reason why they were afraid of using tools like blogging is because students caught onto it first and ran off with it before teachers and other adults were able to teach the ethical side of blogging and use of these tools. I encouraged teachers to get out there and set a good example.

There are many great examples on the web today of what blogging should be about, and then you come across what you don't expect. That happened this morning. I subscribe to a number of blogs, but there are a few that I check on weekly. One of them is Creating Passionate Users, and I've mentioned them briefly on here before. So this morning I head over to her blog and I was so bothered by what I read, I wanted to cry. This person, who I have never met before, Kathy Sierra seems to be one of the most positive people I have ever met. I love her blog. Then I went to my blog feeds and saw that Tom Turner and Steve Dembo had already posted about it. So has Wes Frye and a few other great bloggers. It's really an outcry!

What a challenge. With something like that to stare you in the face, how do you fight the battle of blogging in the classroom? We've had hard enough time getting around cyberbullying on sites like MySpace.

There was a quote I read somewhere about how a hammer can be used as a tool of violence or a tool to build houses. If we don't teach how to use the tools, they will be used the wrong way. With that in my mind, I would still encourage schools to teach the ethical and educational use of blogging and set a good example. If all the great blogs out there disappeared, then all the students have left are blogs that really demonstrate the ugly side of blogging.

So go blog - and teach the students what a blog should look like and how to use the moral code when deciding how to use that Freedom of Speech.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Century 21

I mentioned recently about Joe Caruso, and then I got off on a tangent. If you know me, then you know this is the real me. I birdwalk - which supposedly is a term only I am familiar with. Anywho - I would love to get comments on this video from his Google Video. And guess, what -I have a prize! The video is about 12 minutes. If you don't like it - just say so. I want honest opinions!
I also need another favor. Century 21 Skills are abundant, being taught by many without really knowing it. (Click on the link to learn more about Century 21 Skills.) From Global Awareness to Civic Literacy to Communication- I am sure there is something you are doing to teach and encourage Century 21 Skills. But what are they? Do you sponsor a club like FBLA and encourage them to compete in the events? Do you teach the We The People and have your students debate?
So here's the deal - watch the video from Caruso and tell me what you think. Then tell me what you do with Century 21 Skills. If I get at least 5 individuals to respond, I will draw a name to win a gift card - courtesy of moi! Yep, I really want your answers! If I get more than 10 unique answers, I'll increase the value of the gift card -so encourage your friends to respond.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Entire URL

I was reminded of a site today called The Gateway. Now I knew the site was not because that takes you to the computer site. Therefore, I typed in I knew it ended in a .org - so this had to be right.
Nope. This took me to a pregnancy site.
So I added the www because every once in awhile I find a site that needs to the www. Nope, still the pregnancy site.
This time I added the in front of gateway, and sure enough I found the site. So check out The Gateway to 21st Century Skills being taught in the classroom. If you don't use the link, make sure you spell it correctly. It's I am about to go there to check out the IEP tools and some other great tools. Check them out, from our friends at NEA.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Training Wheels

I'm in a session with the great thinker, Joe Carusa and he's making me think. There are efforts to keep the 21st Century out of the classroom. They are nervous about the social networking of sites like My Space and the educational value of things like blogs because students got a hold of them first and ran off with them before they learned the ethical use of such tools. Now there are policies in place that keep teachers from using such tools in the classroom - each and every brand of the tool. Thankfully there are teachers that joined the educational revolution and use these tools outside of the classroom, mention them briefly in the classroom and the then from HOME students access the tools and use them effectively. There are teachers who found the safe tools to use and found a way around the system in order to start teaching the educational and ethical value of Web 2.0 tools.
But there are still teachers and educational leaders in place in many schools who simply fear the Internet. I remember years ago when there was only ONE computer in the entire school with Internet. In my old school, this was in the closet of the Media Center. Then we got a lab full of Internet capable computers. Finally we got the computer in our classroom with Internet. Boy, did my teaching change. However, there are still teachers out there that are afraid of using this tool.
One of the tools that I recently mentioned was netTrekker. This is a wonderful tool for so many reasons, but especially for those leaders who are a bit nervous about students being on the Internet on school grounds. No, it's not a Web 2.0 tool, but before we can get the students and teachers using Web 2.0 tools, we have to get them to use the Internet properly.
Before Joe's session I talked to someone who wanted to see my reaction by saying, "netTrekker is the Internet on training wheels." I gave him my reaction. I agreed, yes netTrekker has found the sites that are aligned to standards and meet the educational need of students without having to go through millions of sites on the Internet. If you do a search on Google for flowers you're going to get results like parts of a flower, people named flowers, types of flowers, where to buy flowers, unsavory things to do with flowers, and so forth. With netTrekker, you do a search on flowers and you're going to find educational sites about flowers. You still have to decide which of the sites suit your need - parts of flowers or kinds of flowers. You can still find famous people that might have dealings with flowers. Plus, netTrekker saves you time - which is something educators always complain they have so little of. Internet on training wheels? I guess, if training the ethical and proper use of the Internet, reinforcing the safety that is oh so needed on the Internet (from those inappropriate sites) and giving teachers the TIME to focus on those standards they are so stressed to teach.
States want to support educational needs? Provide tools such as netTrekker that promote 21st Century Skills, Internet safety and those standards those tests stress us to teach - a tool like netTrekker. It's a start. Find a site with blogging, wiki, YouTube and flickr type capability for education and boy are we going to really be joining the race.
Sorry, I got carried away. I wanted to look at Century 21 skills and our efforts of using them in the classroom.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

May I Have Your Presentation?

I decided to treat myself today to a magazine - a MacWorld Magazine at that. There was a great article in there about presentations. It started asking if you've even just given a presentation and someone ask if they could have a copy of it. They go on by saying it's not your slides they want (ahem - yes it is), it's your whole presentation with you speaking. They go on to point out that unless you actually videotape the presentation, they are out of luck.
So they give you the tip of buying a piece of software called ProfCast 2.0. The prices isn't bad, it's $30. Basically you audio tape your presentation and drag the presentation over (Keynote or PowerPoint). It will also work with GarageBand.
Wait, do not go out and spend $30 for this! Go shopping or out to the movies instead with the money you would have spent. Instead, try this trick.
Next time you teach a great lesson, open up GarageBand, Audacity, or even have your mic ready on your iPod to record your audio. Then save the PowerPoint as JPEG. You now can either bring the photos of the slides into the GarageBand and create an enhanced podcast or you can use iMovie or MovieMaker. Or better yet - are you going to practice the presentation first? Bring the photos into PhotoStory and record the audio for each slide. Poof- there is your electronic presentation and you didn't spend $30.
As a teacher - I could do this with all my PowerPoints and then let students check them out for review, missed classes, or whatever diabolical - I mean educational - reason they come up with. As a presenter - I have a back up of the presentation and can even do my own personal critique on the whole thing.
Pretty cool huh?

Friday, March 9, 2007

Virtual Ribbon

I know, Earth Day is not until April 22, 2007 - but as an educator, we tend to plan ahead. Actually, I was reading my feedblitz today and there was an entry from the Sun Link Blog about a virtual ribbon. Planetfesto is creating a virtual ribbon to honor Earth Day. It's pretty simple - you find your favorite "earthy" picture (they have a few that you can choose from or you can upload your own). Next you write why you love the planet, what you personally do to protect it, and click on additional things you plan to do to help keep your planet green. There is even a link to lessons for grades 1-6, but I bet this is something High School kids would be interested in too. There's one link of the ribbon from an 80 year old woman.
Looking for more ideas for Earth Day? Check out Instructor Magazine, Parent and Child, or this list of Earth Day web sites. Link

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Free Laptop

Step right up ladies and gentlemen! You too can receive a free laptop from Ericsson for just forwarding an email to 10 or 20 of your friends.
I love spoofs. I'm not crazy over them in the movie sense of the way, but I like these Internet spoofs that people forward thinking, "maybe this one is real and I really will get my thousand dollar bill this time."
If you have received the Ericsson email, here is the Urban Legend exposed for what it is. If you received any other too good to be true offers, check them out here at Snopes.
You can check out other Urban Legends too while you're there. I read the Disney World legends before I go to the park each time.
Please share this with others who are holding out for their free laptop.