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.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Apple is not Flat

I have to share this. I'm a new Mac user, since January of 2007. I was a life long PC user until then. My uncle has to buy my cousin a laptop for college. He asked me which laptop I thought was a great deal. I said Apple. He laughed and said they were too expensive and went on and on. Okay, sure, buy a PC for $350 or whatever the ad has it for today. However, when I had a problem with my Mac (a minor issue that was more my fault) and I went to an AMERICAN store and got help. They even fixed it in an hour! When I called with another question, the person told me they were in the US and I could understand everything they said. So aside from it just being a wonderful computer, I get great service!

I have no problem with other cultures. I loved my time in Germany. However, as an American, I do believe we need to support jobs here in America and help our own economy first. (I even do more shopping in person because I'd rather give the local dollars to my county/state first and help someone else have a job and not a computer. I love technology, but a computer doesn't need a job the way a human does.

Now I will say, my mom bought her computer from Best Buy and she can take it to their store to get help from an American. However, if she calls Compaq, hmmm- I don't know where the call will go. I know my friend spoke to someone from India for Dell. I know because I actually had to help him make some of the calls to get the work done!

Okay, enough said. I'll get off the "World is Flat" soap box. Just had to brag about my Mac.