Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I was able to attend the GAETC conference last week and attended some GREAT sessions, including a few from favorites like Steve Dembo, Tony Vincent, and David Warlick. (One teacher asked me if I enjoyed David Warlock's session I was in. Didn't know David Warlick added that title to his name!)

You can listen in by visiting the podcasts here. Although, sadly, Steve Dembo chose not to podcast his sessions.

Anyway, when I got home I found a letter that was more than 15, maybe 18 years old. I honestly thought I threw all high school letters away when I moved, and I'm not sure how this particular one found it's way to my pillow of all places. I asked, and no one could honestly say where it came from. Strange.

I thought maybe I was suppose to find the author and reconnect. But the name is so common (Robert Murray) that I'm hitting a dead end. Plus, he moved away from the school before graduation. Tips on where to start?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Eco Challenge

Dear Danielle,

The Lexus Eco Challenge is an opportunity for you, your 6th–12th grade students, and your school to make a difference in your community and win a share of $1 million in grants and scholarships!
Click here for entry details and to read the official rules.
What’s new in 2008–2009?
3 Challenges: Compete in as many as three Challenges (Land, Water, Air/Climate), for three chances to win and to qualify for a Final Challenge!
Exciting Prizes: Win larger grants and scholarships in the three Challenges.
Easy Entry Submission: Submit your Action Plan online with MS Word.
Customized Team Info: Edit your team’s profile online.
More Time: Take advantage of the extended prep time to complete the Challenges!
New Lesson Plans and Activities: Inspire students to get involved.Mark your calendar. Click here to see the dates for each Challenge.

Sincerely, Scholastic and Lexus

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Random, Random, Random

During trainings I use either a random number picker or a random name picker to give away doorprizes, depending on the size and mentality of the group. (I did the fruit machine with one group of high school people and got the strangest look!)

With Classtools.net I have variety of tools, graphic organizers, and timeliners at my disposal. My favorites are the Random Name Picker using the fruit machine and the countdown timer. I once even had my son tell me all the punishments he thought was fair for his very bad behavior and then we let the random picker select his punishment. He stood in timeout for 10 minutes that time because the computer told him to and mommy was no longer the bad guy. I have also used the counter. Joey loves the music to race against. I use the A-Team and grant him an extra 9 seconds when we only need a minute.

The Randomizer.org site is dry at first glance, but there's a lot here. The flipping a coin can be fun, especially if you select an antique coin. I use to use the random number picker here. We used the dice once when I couldn't find the dice I needed for a game (I forgot them at home actually).

Today I used the randomizer to pick the Florida Lottery numbers. Should I really go play them? Hmmm.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Social Networking

Last year eSchool News said that social networking sites would be in the top six trends for this year. Today a new study was posted that proved that social networking has surpassed porn activity online.
However, teachers are still held back. We, as professionals, can find organizations to exchange lesson plans and to discuss hot topics. We try to keep these sites on the downlow so the techs do not block them. Twitter, Twhirl, For our students use though, the sites are often blocked. YouTube, even embedded in a lesson plan, is blocked from most schools. I understand there are some poor taste YouTube videos out there, but there's also a great bit of relevant videos. It's a shame that embedded videos are also blocked.
Certain other web 2.0 tools are also blocked. Again, I understand, but a teacher should be able to log in and access certain tools. The should be trusted to know which tools are best for students, what videos can help reach the standards, etc.
Our students are no longer looking at porn. They are using social media. Shouldn't we encourage proper usage of social media in the classroom?

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Tissues

I'm not feeling well and have a box of Kleenex in front of me that are Anti-Viral. On the bottom of the box it says "It is a violation of Federal Law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling. Use only as a facial tissue."

Uh oh. How many of you have broken the tissue law?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Izea, Part Three, Last Post

I saved this for last because the presenter really irked me today with his flippant answer. He gave HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE advice to someone who asked a great, legitimate question. (Here is the video, and the remark was at around 45:40)

It was about copyright.

The speaker was Loren Feldman, and he was speaking on Video Blogs. The question was about where to find music that is copyright friendly. He gave the young lady permission to use whatever she wanted for her YouTube Video because basically YouTube has given permission or has come to an agreement with the artists on the use of the music.

He tells them to "go for it." Do not take this advice. You tarnish your reputation if you have to backtrack work because of a violation notice.

Yes it is hard to police this, and no one wants to be seen as a bad guy for doing so. At the same time when other presenters were asked what to do if someone copied part of your blog, there was irate and passion over send a cease and desist letter and how wrong that was. Hello! These artists are also being wronged when you use their music without their permission to make a profit.

YouTube has several mentions of this topic in their Help Section. I personally liked this entry from rewboss: "As a general rule of thumb, if it's a commercial piece, you'll only be allowed to use the music for your own personal use -- typically, you will not be allowed to "distribute" or "broadcast" it. Uploading to YouTube counts as "broadcasting". If you cannot find any information, you should assume that the music is protected under copyright and you can't broadcast it. It's only in the public domain if the author or the performer (whichever is appropriate) actually declares it to be in the public domain. "

And YouTube does have an agreement with Sony BMG and Universal. They do not cover EVERY musical artist out there, nor does that agreement give final say so.

As a matter of fact, if your music is used in a video that links back to your site and says that this video is sponsored by and gives a link - you are in violation no matter what. No longer are you using the music for personal use and expression, but you just gave PROOF that you are making money off that video. For instance, the video on Loren's blog is hosted on YouTube. If you go to his website, the video is there with YouTube in the corner of the video. UNDER the video it says "Today’s show brought to you by www.payoneer.com" Why did he need someone to bring you a show? Because he's getting some money from it.

Now let's pretend (I haven't watched the video yet) that there's a song used in the background that really enhances the video. And let's pretend the artist who recorded that song either is being sponsored by Payoneer's competitor or totally disagree's with their company philosophy. If the song was used as part of the video, it's misleading. And the average person is going to think they are linked. Big Snaffu issue!

Safest bet, don't use music that can be questioned. Instead either create your own using GarageBand and the special software they have to mix in different band sounds (watched a seminar on this at International Mall, but did not buy into it since I am musically declined), create your own music using Microsoft PhotoStory's music generator, find public domain music, or royalty free music (which you may have to purchase once, but at least you have it).

By the way, Creative Commons does not say that anything can be used creatively - you still have to follow copyright law. Creative Commons is a right that an artist can place on their art if they chose to.

We are really trying to encourage students to be conscience of the copyright law. It would be great if they could realize well respected bloggers, vloggers, and business people in general are also following the law that protects YOU!

IzeaFest Part Two- the Social Network Forum

I thought it was interesting that there was a question from the audience from two current college students about being too personal on the Internet in the social networking circles. I want to re-emphasize what the panel was saying.

Anything you do or say online is apart of your new permanent record (popular presentation by Steve Dembo). If you join a site such as FaceBook or MySpace you do have the option to make it to where only your friends, peeps, etc can see your updates. With that said, if you want to show all fun, sassy, and possibly racy images online but you want to keep it within your approved circle, make sure you check your settings. And if you plan on going in a field where your personality and profile will be checked (education, politics, entertainment, etc) then think twice because private stuff can be copied and pasted. Right now it might be cool -but 20 years from now do you want it known that you "inhaled" true social media? Politicians really need to worry because they will find it harder to deny the actions when there is a photo, messages, and more to back up the claim.

Also, I like the points they made about keeping certain networks for your true personal friends. I agree that Face Book needs to be for friends and families. Join a group from Ning or websites with social components that have a similar interests as you. And if for some reason you are worried about personal information, create an online profile that has same personality as you, but the username, the birthdate, etc is no where near the real information.

I think that's one area they did not stress. Get off Twitter and Facebook already, what other professional networks do you belong to? Lena mentioned a professional network, but she never really detailed this area. I, as a educator and technology trainer, have joined many networks that relate to educational technology and a few with personal interests. As an educator we have many choices, some better than others. But where do these people go?

Last think I want to point out is it's okay for Mommy Bloggers to blog about their children if that's where they are comfortable and they take the precautions that need to be taken. As a mother of a ADHD/LD/OCD, High Anxiety, Sleep disorder, seizure prone child- I often look for other mothers who are going through the same thing. I don't need your child's name, but I would like to know age and if they are a boy or girl. It helps me make a connection. I personally add Joey's name, and include photos such as the one from his last sleep study. I never considered myself a Mommy Blogger though, and the people who follow me on a normal basis know my son. If they didn't, or if I had a more well read popular blog, I might consider twice before posting that information.

I did go back and watch this session, and some of the things that I took out of context there, I was able to put into context after listening to it a second time.

Izea Fest Part One

This Friday and Saturday I was able to attend the IzeaFest in Orlando, FL. I'll admit the first day was not my favorite and I was very skeptical about returning for the second day. I mean, I learned a lot from the sessions but I didn't think they were truly geared towards my goals and learning objectives. I am very glad I stayed behind and did the second day though.
There was no evaluation form, so I'm going to use my blog to give my thoughts. I might even, for the first time, post my blog on Twitter. :-)
I already mentioned the first day was not my thrill point. However, if I could have done the second day first and then the first day second (reverse), I think I would have gotten more out of it. See, today we talked about Content with Merlin Mann (AWESOME!!!!), then had a network forum (uh - one participant irked me), then we talked about design (LOVED the fact that they talked about accessibility issues) and makeovers (great at sharing before and after and why). So today was all about the start to finish of setting up a good blog. Then Friday we talked about making money off the blogs, content, advertising and affiliates. The content part was alright, but the rest needed to be shared today so we would have the full view and concept, working forward instead of backward. Heck, you can't make money on a blog until you have content, people following and a layout that works for your viewers.
Other than that, I think things went really great and I might even consider going back next year. I will look at actually going to the night events and really socializing.
But I have two complaints and I'm going to make those in the next blog post.

Shouldn't be a big deal

I'm at a blogging conference and I was going to pull up my old DEN blog for one person in the room who was curious about my style. Yeah, I could show this blog, but we were talking about comments, voice, etc. and I had more of a voice, community, and comments there. He wanted to learn more about social networking with teachers, so I wanted to show off one of the best social networks for teachers today. My log in for the community no longer works, but our blogs were still there. Hidden, but there. A former DEN member pointed them out to me and told me how they go back there to check a few tools I had mentioned.
Anyway, so I go to one blog I knew was still posted: http://blog.discoveryeducation.com/florida/2006/10/14/. He then asked me if I changed my name.
All my blog entries are no longer credited to me. Debbie Bohanan gets credit. Which shouldn't matter but goodness, it does. I feel like that whole 11 months was just wiped clean and they're gone. They were great times, and I don't hold a grudge against them for the restructuring - but goodness graciousness, can't they at least leave us as the author of those blogs?
Oh well.

Wall Flower

I was hit smack in the head last night with a "God Awful" truth. I'm an introvert. I am not a social butterfly.

Thursday night there was an event social for IzeaFest. I got into Orlando a bit later than planned and chose to go to dinner with Kelly instead and then go watch America's Got Talent or read. I told myself it was because I didn't want to pay for parking, didn't want to get dressed up in a little or even big black dress, and I wasn't a drinker. Then yesterday I found a spot up against the wall, third table back. I told myself I chose this spot because of the power connection was right there. Last night I chose not to go to the bar event. I told myself I was really tired and wanted to go to dinner.

Truth was in all those events I didn't know anyone and didn't want to stand out as the loser. Yeah, I know I'm not a loser. Give me a bunch of my friends or teachers, and I can be a great social butterfly or social planner. Put me with a bunch of corporate people, or people I don't see an immediate connection to (because there are a lot of people here that are not a lot of corporate people here), and I freeze. I freeze at talking to higher ups in education - superintendent level- even my own old super. I freeze at talking to people who are financially savvy like these people who know how to work from home and make money blogging. I freeze at talking to those who know how to relax, have a drink, and have fun. I have slight panic attacks at the thought. Heck, I froze the first time I spoke to Hall Davidson!

But then I chastise myself each time I don't follow through with the social plans, don't take advantage to network, and sit back to be the wallflower.

Me, the one who was a manager for what I believe was a successful state (North Florida actually) DEN. Me, who will talk to total strangers and invite them to an event - but then don't know how to relax and enjoy Howl At the Moon the way it was meant.

So do I want to re-invent myself? Do I want to change? Yes. How do I expect to meet Mr. Right or a new great friend if I don't learn to really socialize outside of my comfort zone.

How many of you are really good at stepping out of your comfort zone? Think about it. Are you good at stepping out of the comfort zone? Do you get nervous? Freeze like I do?

Let's bring this back to education. How many of you ask your students to step out of their comfort zone? Do you forget to be compassionate in your grading when they do, but are not as successful as others that are in their comfort zone?

Is your professional development plan asking you to step out of your comfort zone? How do they help you step out and be successful?

I signed up for tonight's scavenger hunt. Let's see if I can do this.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Another Social Network

BrainPop is a fun site, and I enjoy the videos immensely. So does Joey and Zoe. But often times I'm asked, "aside from showing the video, how do you USE BrainPop?"

BrainPop has decided to answer that question by giving their users a great gift. Welcome to BrainPop Educators. Here you can read their updated blog (I wanted to make sure it was going to be updated regularly before I announced it here), find lessons or submit your own, find videos from other users on how they use BrainPop, and more. Check it out!

It'll be interesting to see how much this community grows over the next few months and if it's going to be viral like Discovery Educator Network, or sort of dry like another one I won't mention. I have a feeling it's going to be very engaging!


I'm at the Izea Fest with a bunch of people who have products or services like mobile ringtones, etc. This guy speaking is telling us how he was a failure first. Told us his whole life history of failures. Then he shows us his successes. He has websites that in 2005 earned over $30K a month based on ads.
So I feel totally out of place here. I honestly don't want to earn $30K a month. I know, how silly of me.
And since I don't follow these people normally, I don't know half, okay 98%, of what they are talking about.
But if I don't take away something then I realize that I missed out on time spent calling my customers and getting my email back to normal. So my takeaways:
  • Prioritize the potentially profitable projects
  • Do what others are unwilling to do
  • Make sure that there is still a need for service
  • Build your product for people, not for search engines or profits. If it's for people first then the profits will follow.
  • Grammatical errors on a blog are okay
I like that last one.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My Aha Moment of the Day!

I'm running WAY late! I was suppose to be at Debbie's school by now, but I've been so busy - I can't get out the door!
So now since Debbie and I just went over a few things, I can relax before hitting the road. Tomorrow, I'll be attending a blogging conference, and so I decided I would spend my 15 minutes of calm time to see who the presenters are. It's not an educational group, so I don't know them at all.
They all sound interesting, and part of me is wondering why I asked to go now. I have nothing in common with any of them. But this one guy has a post that caught my eye and his opening sentence made me realize WHY I have problems writing "technical" help items for work, or even the third person article for our newsletters. James Chartand's post "What Jergens Hand Soap Can Teach You About Crafting Compelling Copy" starts off with the statement, "Want to be a better writer? Read. That’s a given."
I read all the time! But I don't read the proper books. For instance, I just read "Can You Keep A Secret" by Sophie Kinsella. In the book Emma pretends to have read "Dickens". I pretend too! But I have read James Patterson, Janet Evonich, JK Rowling, Nora Roberts, Vince Flynn - you get the picture. I just read four books since Thursday! Smoking would be a cheaper hobby! I also have a ton of books on my shelves, including The World Is Flat. I think I read part of the first chapter while traveling. Fastest dinner I ever ate! I finished in a hurry to make it to the bookstore. I had to have something entertaining to read. I have skimmed the book since then, but never read it cover to cover, and never will.
I have other books on my shelf like that.
So when I write, I write the way of the authors I enjoy. Stephanie Plum is telling her own story - not Janet. Nora writes details and is expressive, not straight and to the point. And so I want to give the background, the details, and I want to write the story as if I was the one reading it to you. Like we're having a conversation.
My suitcase is packed. I just guiltily looked at the latest ASCD book sitting on my desk.
I grabbed the Jayne Ann Krentz book I picked up yesterday instead.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Travel Stories

This week I had a training in Birmingham, AL. I was excited because this is where one of my former students was going to school and where "Ms. Alabama" Pam Walker lives. I couldn't get a hold of Pam, but I did get a hold of Jay. Thanks to him, a book wasn't my dinner partner on Thursday night.
My adventures started in a Nissan Versa. I drove about a mile away from the airport, looked down, and saw all these ants coming out of the dash, cup holder, and the steering wheel. I think I killed about twenty before I even had the car turned around. For my problems the rental company upgraded me to a Mountaineer. It was either that or a Mustang, but that was not an option. I did NOT want to drive He told me he was giving me a small SUV like the Ford Escape. I've driven the Escape -that I can handle. This car was more like the Explorer or Edge.
And if I had realized how narrow some of the streets were, how ing, and that Alabama is not as flat as I once pictured, I would have begged for the smaller car without the ants.
Anyway, so I get to the hotel and the room is freezing and has a wet floor. Can't turn the air off without smelling the damp. Can't walk in the bathroom without slipping since the bottom of my shoes are now wet. And the air has to stay on so you can mask the smell, but it's not a comforting sound. But the room is clean - so I'll deal.
Jay and I had a great dinner at Johnny Rockets, caught up with how school's been going, gave him a talking to about performance in classes, etc. He even gave me a few minutes in the bookstore and didn't complain about my driving. Such a good kid.
The next morning I left the hotel for the 12 minute drive to the district office. I printed directions off in case my Garmin was wrong. The directions matched, I was good to go. I was leaving early so I could stop and buy black socks. Never got the socks. And I didn't get to the school board by 7:20 as planned. Instead, I was scared witless by 7:30!
I got to the location and it didn't look right. There was no school board offices, the houses looked run down, there were large empty lots that had the appearance of either construction work that stopped or never got started, and things just didn't feel right. But there was a McDonalds and a gas station so I pulled into the gas station for directions. The first person was from Mississippi - didn't know the area. The lady behind the counter didn't speak English. Three guys walked in, and I decided to ask them for help. They said they were from the area and when I said I was looking for 18th Street South or the School Board offices of Jefferson County. The bigger of the three guys asked me if I was crazy, "don't you know not to go asking no stranger for directions? You don't know where they goin' to send you." I responded that I was lost and was just hoping they would be nice enough to help me out. The guy said, "okay, I'll be nice. That here road is 18th Street. You came the north. Head that way for the south side. Just turn right out of the lot."
I walked super fast back to my car, and looked back inside the store. The guys were laughing. The big guy had his back to me, and when he bent at the waist, I saw the gun tucked in the back of his pants. I stepped on the gas and turned right.
Quickly I realized I was not going the right direction. Nope. Nada. See, I was headed down a dead end. No sign saying so, but the road stopped, there were trees all around, and no where to go. I did a three point turn, looked in my rear view mirror and saw the guys still at the store, and turned around. When I drove past them, they were laughing and pointing at me and one of them made the gun signal, shot it my way and then waved goodbye.
That episode of "The District" where Jack had to go to California for something to do with a case, and the car he rented had a navigational device or computer in it that had been tampered with. It sent him to a destitute, deserted lot. He was a cop who knew no fear. I knew fear.
I got back on the Interstate, pulled over at the next exit, plugged in Jay's dorm (on 14th Street South) and found my way from there.
Found 18th Street. Went the wrong way at first, so I turned around. Got to the 900 area and I'm not sure how far up it went, but all the sudden, the road dead ended into a beautiful historic looking school on a hill. I went around the school, thinking 18th street continued on the other side. Nope. But I did find a Police Station with an officer and a janitor standing outside.
I explained I was lost. I told him what happened. He said white girls shouldn't be on the north streets. Told me how to get to where I was going. It wasn't on 18th Street as I would find it. I called Jane. Her soothing voice helped calm me down. I was nervous I wouldn't find the site. But I did find it. I signed in at 8:15, still a bit shaking.
And I guess the training went okay. I had abotu 50 + hard working media specialists in there. We were cramped for time, barely covering everything. But I heard great comments and they said they wanted me to come back.
Especially since I know my way now. :-)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Election Questions

You can't turn to the news, into a Twitter Conversation, onto a new webpage without seeing news or an ad about Obama or McCain. Nothing I'm hearing has swayed me to vote for either one - YET. I've heard a lot of great promises, but no actual plans yet.
Here are my questions:
  • We are paying for the health care for a lot of US Citizens and illegal immigrants. I do agree that everyone should have the right to the health care, but that's not what bothers me. What bothers me is the number of people who have jobs and cannot get health insurance. They still rely on the free health clinics and medical programs. So Obama and McCain - what are your REAL plans for health care, and more importantly - HOW DO YOU PLAN TO PAY FOR IT?
    • As as side note, someone on TV said that we needed to at least provide the same health coverage for Americans as the politicians get. That's a sore subject with me. They get FREE - no premium- health coverage in the state of Florida and teachers are having to pay a premium. And sometimes that premium is MORE than they can afford. I have a friend who has his children on the state plan because his WORK insurance is not affordable. HELLO????
  • We're in the middle of an economic crisis. Part of it is because of the gas prices and part is because of the UN-affordable housing. For instance, when I moved to Florida I found a great small lot with a dilapidated mobile home for just over $100,000, a home built in the late 1980s that needed about $50,000 or more worth of work for $175,000 and a brand new home that was up to code for just over $200,000. On my single paycheck, the mobile home was the most affordable, but it was not realistic or safe. When you live paycheck to paycheck to pay your mortgage, you can't save for retirement and you can't put back into the economy. No splurge shopping or "extras". Those help spur the economy. If no one is shopping, then those stores can't keep the jobs, they close down, jobs are lost, and houses go into foreclosure, eventually decline. I've seen it happening around me. We have 300 lots built in my community, 18 are in foreclosure, some are for sale and are not selling, others are on a "short sale" program and not selling, and then the others are struggling to keep things going in the depressing state our community is in. So Obama and McCain - what are you going to do REALISTICALLY for those who bought to high due to the market availability in their time of need (and not lower interest rates because I only know ONE person who was able to get the lower interest rate and not the other plan to be starting in October because it is also not aimed at the AVERAGE American.)? And what are your plans to make sure that the developers, builders, and mortgage companies DO NOT put the economy in such a state again? And how do you plan to carry it out?
  • What are your plans for education? How do you plan to support those plans? Remember, these are the future Presidents of the United States and you'll depend on them for plans on keeping you healthy and safe in all measures. Will it be more state testing and unfunded mandates? Is that realistic? How are you going to lower the stress for teachers today so they can TEACH and do more than prepare our students for state tests but for the real world? (So maybe Palin's PTO presidency will help with insight on what American Education is going through today? Just a thought.)
  • What are your plans for Iraq? Withdrawl? Stay? How will your plans ensure that America is not left vulnerable or seen as weak and encouraging another attack on our soil?
Abortion rights are actually not a concern of mine. I know, that's a step backwards for women according to some. I am not concerned with who is having affairs, who has the most houses, who raises the most money, or anything else that might be frivolous. I want to know who is going to take care of America first, take care of our real problems.

I got off track of the media frenzy though. I have noticed that while McCain has encouraged the funds to start preparing for the storms, that wasn't as media frenzied as Obama asking supporters to stop donating to him and donating to the Hurricane Relief Funds.
Hey both of you - Education budgets have been hit so hard this year- why didn't you both do a fundraiser for PUBLIC education and help them out? Why wait until you had a photo op, chance to get your name in the papers to do something "good"? I'm still amazed at how much each campaign needs to win their election. American

Playing the Political Lessons

I was on the phone the other day with my aunt after Palin was announced as McCain's running mate and she expressed how excited and interested my cousin is with this election. He won't be able to vote this time around, but he's starting to realize the changes that can come about in America with this election.
Or can the changes take place?
In a discussion today the line Obama and his groupies have been using came up, "Who wants more of the same? We've had Bush for the past 8 years. It's time for new blood." My mother, a Republican who may or may not always vote Republican, said, "Well then we better hope that we get new blood in Congress, because it's not only Bush that created this mess."
And she's partly right. We have a system of check and balances. No office has complete control. If the President wants to pass a bill, he needs to have support of Congress. If Congress wants to pass a bill, they need support of the President. They can vote against his proposals, and he can veto theirs.
The other thing topic that got brought up was if there ever was a President and Vice President in office that were NOT of the same party. Yes, there was. In the original set up the person who received the second highest vote became Vice-President. This became a problem when Federalist John Adams won the Presidency and Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson became Vice-President. Imagine their conflicts over foreign affairs and state rights. Can you imagine what it would be like if we had the same set up in today's election? We could have an Obama/McCain or McCain/Obama or McCain/Clinton or Clinton/Obama or Donald Duck/Mickey Mouse election.
I would vote for Donald. :-)
I bring this up because the rest of the discussion was over what is the Vice-President's Role other than to be on the card and then to take the President's place if anything should happen to him. I found it interesting that the only thing that they could say was "to go deer hunting and hope not to shoot a friend" and some other off handed remarks.
So right now I'm trying to write lesson plans and I decided I'd focus on government. It's obvious that we can all use a refresher on the election process, the responsibilities of each branch, and the responsibilities of the President and the Vice President.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Putting It All Together and STACKS

It's no secret that some of my favorite products include netTrekker d.i., Tech4Learning's entire product line, and Scholastic. I've also been enjoying Zoho lately as well. I found a way to make them work together!

Recently I was conducting a training on netTrekker d.i. and was sharing with the media specialists how to save the preferred links and the directions for the project in the My Portfolio. (For more information on this, contact netTrekker d.i. for professional development. They have a fantastic Integration Class. I'm not just saying it because I teach it, it really is good.) I also showed the teachers how to create a rubric using the free tools courtesy of Tech4Learning's Myt4l. We needed somewhere to post the rubric, so we uploaded it into Zoho's Spreadsheet and made the spreadsheet public. I then posted the URL for that spreadsheet into netTrekker d.i.'s My Portfolio, right into the folder for that particular project.

Then I overheard that it would be great if the media specialists could add a list of the preferred books for the unit. One said they could use the Template tool and put all the books on a list. I took that opportunity to showcase the Scholastic Book Wizard. I created a list of books about Abraham Lincoln and added the booklist to the project folder I created in netTrekker d.i.

Here's an example of a completed booklist. Joey has been asking me a lot about Superheroes lately and he only seems to be ale to concentrate or think about Batman, Superman, Spiderman, and the others like them. So we went on the Wizard and found other books about heroes, but necessarily with those that are well known. These are books that he'd like to read or has read at school.

And while I was on the Scholastic website, I found this great new social tool for students. It's called STACKS. It's still in Beta Testing, but there's going to be a lot of neat features to help students connect with other students who share their love of reading certain books. Check it out - there's some great stuff already there. My niece is playing with the links now.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Brain Freeze, Brain Fart, No Brainer

First I want to finish up my vent since last post. I agree with Marsha that it is rude of people not to move. I do it all the time and don't see the big deal. Right now I'm stuck at the Fort Lauderdale Airport. Delayed due to weather. I'm sitting on the floor. Why am I sitting on the floor? Because this guy had a seat saved for his food and another for his bag. He ignored me when I asked if the bag seat was his and if I could sit there. But guess what? This other guy all decked out in fashion statement attire and two gold hoops came over and he moved ALL of his stuff for him. I'd have moved for him to, but that's because I'm nice. I guess the tassels did it it.

So on to Brain Freeze, Brain Fart and the No Brainer. I do nothing but read while I'm on a trip. I can't see purchasing an electronic reader because you can't use them during take off. And I love the feel of a book in hand. I have read 4 books this week alone. I need to find a cheaper habit, so I decided to try my hand at writing.
I tried to get back into the educational book but I couldn't. I'm not a technical writer. I keep getting things sent back to me from the group I work with because it's not crisp enough for training. I agree. So I abandoned that book.
But I have this great series idea and I'd love to actually flesh it out. The main character's name is Chrystal "Chrys" Clear. She's a teacher and well, I don't want to give away the plot. And the plot's okay. I've got that in my mind. I'm just having a problem with the start. I can't get happy about anything I'm writing. It's not right. Maybe I'm being to critical. My brain freezes during the scenes where characters are talking. I who love to talk don't know how to write a scene with people sharing a conversation.
Then I have a brain fart and forget where in the world I am in the story. I want to jump ahead and write about the dead body. Yeah, okay, so there's a dead body -maybe in the book. But I need to get to the dead body. I can't just jump into a dead body can I? That doesn't sound exactly right does it?
So as I sit in the airport with the brain freeze and brain fart, I finally have a no brainer thought. WHY am I trying to write blind? Mrs. Hunter is right. I need to flesh out my stories first. I need to create their map and have my journey planned. My former high school English teacher told me if I had Inspiration back in high school I would have been a better writer. Why am I not using it right now? Well duh!
My battery is dying, but I can start with pen and paper. Tonight, if I can't sleep, I'll transfer to Inspiration.
And in case Janet Evonich is reading this - why don't you run a contest where you'll pick an apprentice to help write their first book. Don't accept any other entries but mine. :-)
And maybe one day frequent flyers will buy my book to help them get through the flight and wait in the airports. One can dream huh?
Time to get inspired!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Travel Venting

I have been writing a lot of posts lately as I'm flying and traveling to trainings, but only in my head. But right now, I really need to vent.

I use to be the perfect traveler. I checked my bag and only had my laptop bag with me. Then I decided to be one who took my bag on the plane with me. I have a 21 inch bag that fits the size wise dimensions, but it was really pushing it. Even Delta made me check it once - and it was not over flowing or expanded. As a matter of fact, it had plenty of room. So for my birthday last year my parents bought me a nice 17 inch bag. Perfect.

However, I'm getting really frustrated when I see people who get away with the breaking the baggage rules.

To the lady today who had a bag that would not fit in wheels first and had to take up more than 1/2 of the overhead compartment, plus had not one BUT TWO purses (one was a laptop bag she says) that were so big they took up the rest of the compartment - the guy who had to check his ONE bag thanks you.

To the man who had a suit bag, a suitcase, and a laptop bag - decide which one you want to check. The lady who was last on the plane would have appreciated it.

To the team that had each a suitcase and a laptop bag, and the lady had a huge purse and the guy was carrying a long tube - read the rules. Then you wouldn't have to figure out where to put everything.

And flights can leave on time.

Yeah, frustrated.

Last year I had to check my ONLY bag that had my MacBook Pro, my Garmin, my cell phone, my camera, my iPod, and my PURSE. The flight attendant made it sound like she was putting it up front in First Class. See, I was the last person to board because of my zone, had to sit behind first class and there was no more room for my ONE bag. There were plenty of bags that did not fit the size wise dimensions, but I still had to check my ONE bag. During the flight I asked the flight attendant if there was a ticket for my bag. She looked at me funny and said no. At the end of the flight I asked her if my bag was going to be brought up with the strollers. She said, "no, I checked it all the way through. You'll need to go to baggage claim." SHE SENT MY LAPTOP TO BAGGAGE CLAIM! I raced there to make sure no one grabbed it first, only to find out my phone was missing. Thank goodness only the phone. It fell out of the velcro pouch. And the airlines are not responsible for technology YOU CHECK!

Okay, starting to feel better.

But seriously people, please stop bringing bags on the planes that are not size wise or that are TOO heavy for you to lift. Ladies, your purse is a personal item. You have to choose - your suitcase, purse or laptop. Or put your purse in your laptop bag like I do. Yeah, I carry a small purse - but I've recently bought a bigger one. And it still fits! And to the people at the gate - start cracking down on the people who carry on too many bags or oversized bags. Start charging if needed. Dang, you charge for everything else.

Deep breathe. Sorry I vented. Had to get it out. Not like anyone really reads my blog anyway. :)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Communities: One Size Fits All?

I read a great article, thanks to a twit by Cool Cat Teacher, about communities and social networking. It seems like a lot of people are using the buzz word "community" to try to pull people into their site. I know a few months ago I joined the American Idol community, the Oprah Community, Ellen's Community, and then a few others as well. Oh, and some food item community -I think it was Kraft -just so I could get the recipe.
The thing with each of those communities is that there was no desire to stay active. Okay, I take that back - I stayed active in the American Idol Community and was even the David Cook trivia person for the Tuesdays before each show in the David Cook forum, but since he's been crowned as our Idol, I haven't been back. And unless there is another idol of Cook's talents, I don't plan on logging back in. I only signed up for Ellen so I could keep up with the American Idol chatter. Oprah because there was a forum I was interested in, but that topic soon fizzled.
I have seen a few teacher communities with staying power. In the article, it was mentioned that a lot of "communities" are not true communities but rather end users and the problem with most "communities" is that they do not harness the passion or interest. Okay, I'll give him that. So what makes the community a true community?
One topic he brought to light was that those involved need to have a similar interest and a sense of shared experiences. So I go back to an education community that I joined over a year ago. I had an interest in their product. It was catchy to begin with. However, since it's inception I have not truly gone back to the "community" website because I did not share any experiences with the other members. The David Cook group all shared our anticipation up to the show on Tuesday nights, our prayers and wishes for David on Wednesday night, and then our joy when he won. Since then, the community has found another platform to share their experiences. The original community has fizzled.
So what can a community do to keep it from fizzling?
When I went back to the article I saw a response from Chris Abraham. I really like his quote: "What every successful community requires is community leadership. Community leadership can be organic and emergent or they can be hired in the form of online community managers or facilitators. A strong leadership — people who have skin in the game — is more important than a good web application; also, these community leaders are often the main draw to the community and can be the difference between keeping or losing your members when a competitor comes to town."
I can agree with that based on my experiences with the DEN. I was okay with it when it first got started, but once the leaders took their place, it became even more exciting. (Especially when I was a leader. ;-) ) I really believe the field managers make DEN the cohesive community it is today. Even when we lost the state/regional field managers, the leaders left -Lance, Steve, Scott, Betsy, Hall, Coni, and Jannita - really held the community together. The state leaders all stepped up and helped as well.
Some would say that the leader is not necessary when they refer to Twitter or even Second Life. However, those are loosely formed communities and someone always takes over to help organize the events. And in Second Life, there is a leader for those formally involved in the DEN, ISTE or other groups Second Life Experiences. There are also owners of the various islands who plan events. So again, a leader emerges.
So if anyone is thinking about creating a true community, they need to make sure that there is a central passion, opportunities to share experiences, and a leader with the same passion and goals of the members of the community.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Crazy, Life and Reading

Yesterday afternoon I landed in Charlotte, NC. Five minutes into my drive towards Mooresville, NC I heard this song. I checked into the hotel, ran across the street to Kohl's to buy a new purse, and heard it again. (Shockingly, I bought two, but returned one because it was too big.) Then I went to dinner and guess what - it was playing there too. I ran into Sally's and heard it a fourth time, and wonder, are the radio gods trying to tell me something? What was the song? Machbox 20's "Unwell", and now I can't get "I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell, I know, right now you can't tell."

Anyway, I jumped on last night to a Second Life event led by Anne Truger. Now I had really never ever wanted to jump into Second Life again after the X Rated experience I had once before - over a year ago. But I actually enjoyed last night's session and learned a lot. I'm looking forward in participating in other professional development/personal learning experiences in Second Life.

After Second Life I played some more with Book Wizard from Scholastic. I helped my neighbor find some books for her children the other day using this great tool and decided I wanted to try it out for Joey. He's such a non-reader, but I've got to find something to spark his interest. When I was his age, I had read almost all of the Bobbsey Twins series and was reading other detective stories. I read almost 2 books while in Gurnee, IL last week, finished a book yesterday while flying, and have another one ready to be read on tonight's flight. I don't understand why he doesn't like to read. Hopefully the Book Wizard will help me find some great books to spark his interest.

Today I'm training on netTrekker d.i. I'm looking forward to the training and helping others realize that netTrekker d.i. is so much more than a search.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Social Networking - not Just for Sales Anymore

  • I decided to try my hand at answering a question in the Linked In forum to show off my expertise. Don't laugh. I chose this one: Are sales people more or less likely to engage in social networking than those in other professions?

My social networking experience started when I was transitioning from teaching fifth grade to middle school business. I had to find a group for support, and so I joined the "I Must Be Crazy, I Teach Middle School" Yahoo Group. It was great. We'd share lesson plans, discussion board topics, etc. I also entered chat rooms and joined in conversations with other single parents, movies, books, and other topics of interest - but this group was my true network. I never met a single person from the group, but we had some great times.

And I'm not in sales. Well, not really.

I later joined a network as a member and then as their manager for North Florida. You know the one, Discovery Educator Network. I really enjoyed the connections we made and the power the DEN gave the teachers. Empowering. Empowering Passionate teachers. Infusing technology, methodology, and the trends. It was absolutely fantastic.

So of course I had to write my thoughts and tell Doyle Stanton my feelings. I edited it down big time to say, "Social networking is very strong in education as well. I would say any profession that is truly enhanced by reaching out and getting to know others in order to share ideas, connections, resources, and even help in a time of need engage in social networking. I think the amount of traveling a sales person engages in though increases their likelihood of networking."

When I edited, I cut it down by accident. I left off the thought that I see the same with teachers who travel to conferences, participate in activities not necessarily sponsored by their district, and are willing to try something new. The teachers attending NECC next week are busy planning where they'll meet up if they follow on Twitter, how to connect during the conference, and where to connect afterwards.

  • David Warlick has created a fantastic tool called hitchhiker that pulls all the blogs and topics about conferences together.
  • There is a Ning for the NECC attendees to join and stay connected before and after the conference is over.
  • Twitter people are keeping an eye there to keep up to date with what's going on at NECC, and I'll bet Plurk will be busy too.
And those are just a few ways teachers will network. By meeting in person, sharing an experience, and making these initial connections, their online connection will be even stronger.

So is it limited to just sales people? No. Social networking is there for anyone willing to join and take the time to contribute and connect based upon jobs, hobbies, or interests.

Take the summer to connect with teachers. Start off by joining in on Scholastic Discussion Boards, look for a Ning for you, or really plunge into a network like DEN or others.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

If I Were President

Tonight before the HOA meeting, I spoke to a teacher down the street. She is currently working on her units for next year and gathering all the materials now. I personally think this is a smart move.

With it being an election year, she is really looking to incorporate this theme in many lessons. Having the students create the laws of the classrooms, writing speeches to elect the classroom government, balancing budgets for classroom activities, and so forth. Of course I mentioned that she had to use the Online Activity from Scholastic titled ""http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif. I also mentioned the great one computer classroom software from Tom Snyder titled "Decisions! Decisions!". My personal favorite is probably "On the Campaign Trail".

With these great tools, teaching in the classroom can be even more exciting.

Maps, measurement and projects

I learned the power of a letter yesterday. My home is in the preferred corridor for Progress Energy's new lines and expansion. My fellow community members received letters letting us know that we are within 250 feet of the projected path and our homes were going to be impacted. We were not told HOW they were going to be impacted and each phone call to their office gave us different answers.

So I wrote a letter to the editor and said that we needed answers. Basically our community is in limbo. With already a weak home market, we do not need this hanging over our head. My neighbor had the bid on her home withdrawn when she disclosed about the energy line project. She honestly could not tell the potential buyer how the project was going to impact the home, and therefore loss the sale. I had home improvements I wanted to do, but why spend money if my home is going to be taken in the next year or so?

The letter was published Monday morning. At 7:45 AM, my phone rang. It was a neighbor from the community next door. They read my letter and wanted to talk about the project. I received several other phone calls, including a representative from Progress Energy. I was finally told that my home SHOULD NOT be impacted or bought out.

More information came up tonight at our HOA meeting. I have been playing on Google Earth and working out the dimensions we were given. I just can't see the path the way they see it.

I need to learn how to use Sketch Up and the tools in Google Earth so I could really draw out the maps the way the company is talking. With the widening of the road, the new gas line, and then the new tower we are going to be getting crowded really fast.

Campaign Dollars and Education

I was speaking to a FL educator earlier today about purchasing a professional development package. Of course, funds are tight right now and so they're not sure if they have the monies to buy. They then made a comment about the politicians getting free insurance and how their insurance rates might even be going up. I tasted their bitterness and can't say I blame them. One politician said they are providing a public service- well so are educators.

Then I saw an article about how much money the presidential nominees are spending on their campaign and how the DNC wants McCain investigated for on the legality of McCain's decision to reject $5.8 million in taxpayer funds.

That's a lot of money. McCain is spending about Two Million a week on advertising on TV. In eight weeks, that's over sixteen million. That's the shortage of about four counties in Florida for their education budget.

But schools are made to do without, find a way to cut the budget. So they don't purchase Microsoft Office, and instead use online office tools like Zoho or Google Docs. They become very creative in their spending to make the most of the situations for all of the people involved in the realm of education.

So what if instead of spending Two Million this week on advertising, he donated one million to education, posted his videos on YouTube, blogs, and other websites, and then focused the last million on fewer time spots.

If he did that - can you imagine the praise he'd get, which in turn would be free advertisement. Obama could do the same thing. Maybe he could choose health care to donate his million too, since that's another hard hit area with the budget hits.

Could each candidate do one week of campaigning where their expenses reflect the current economy and budgets our PUBLIC SERVICE AGENCIES are being forced to deal with?

Great math activity for students when they come back. Find out how much does it cost to air a commercial, how much to create the commercials, and other campaign expenses. Place it in a spreadsheet and make suggestions on HOW to cut their expenses. Hmmm - they could even give monies to state colleges that have video production courses/majors and have them create equal commercials and benefit by getting scholarship monies. The monies and video production would have to be equal - and it's a great learning experience for those students.

I know they are using Web2.0 tools like Twitter, YouTube, and blogs - but something has got to give.

Just me rambling and ranting.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Frightful Insights

When NECC was held in New Orleans in 2004, I made the reservation to stay at this hotel that was rumored to have a ghost. I made that reservation on purpose, because I thought it would be cool to see a ghost. It was the first year I was suppose to be going to NECC by myself and my boss quickly changed my room reservation. Her reason for changing it - it was connected to Bourbon Street and there was no way she was letting a single female of her employ stay there by herself. Luckily she hired Cheryl T. and I didn't go to NECC by myself.

And luckily, she changed the room because I don't think I could have slept in a haunted hotel.

Now if you read my old blog you'll remember the story of a Friday in October of 2006 in the Pan Handle of FL where I started out in Destin, I freaked out on the road due to an overactive imagination, ended up making the wrong turn when rerouted for an accident, and ended up staying the night in the round Holiday Inn in Tallahassee, FL. I freaked out even more there because I had been reading a Nora Roberts book about vampires and well, I was too scared to even go to the drink machine to get a bottle of water!

Tonight I'm in Bartow at a fairly new (2 years old) Holiday Inn. I just closed the curtains and freaked myself out because all I could see was pitch black.

So I'm back on the computer. I thought about trying once more to write a book. I think I've started about 100, but this time it would just be for my son. See, he was just diagnosed as ADHD (which we knew and he was actually diagnosed before), OCD and/or high anxiety. There's also a chance he could be functioning autistic and something else - was it PDD or PPD or something like that. As dad says, he's the alphabet kid. Anyway, we're going to start treatments for the high anxiety, which will help us figure out if he's really OCD or just high anxiety or both. It'll also help us figure out some coping strategies. I'm just not sure if he'll start Thursday or in the fall.

So in the meantime, I'm thinking about writing a book for him. I have my Image Blender ready - a great tool to create images and create digital stories with. Trying to decide if I should make the boy a shark, since Joey is fascinated with sharks. Fascinated is actually too weak of a word to describe his passion for Great Whites. I've drawn a few silly things, and if the story turns out okay, I'll probably let my brother Kelly redraw everything to be more professional. But it's kind of calming to draw the ocean.

I just can't bring myself to draw the shark because even though I'm no where near the ocean, I'm already freaked out by the darkness I just saw outside my window - and I'm not usually afraid of the dark. Which brought me back to that trip from Destin, FL where I got lost on that one windy road that bordered the ocean and the deserted vacation homes and all I kept thinking was a shark was going to jump out of the water and get me if the trees pushed me any further off the road. (It was really dark, the trees were blowing hard in the wind, and my imagination was in overdrive times 100 and I think I had actually been forced to watch Sharkboy and Lavagirl before that trip too.)

So now I'm stuck. And scared. Time to find a comedy on tv.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Careful Conversations

I talked to a stranger today. Obviously my mom never said not to, or I didn't listen to well. It was someone I met on Skype. Normally I ignore all the requests I get unless I know them. However, I talked to this guy a week or so ago, and again today.

Now I remember why I don't like the Internet Chat rooms. While you have anonymity and can be whoever you want, I never lied. I'm not the kid from the song by Brad Paisley with an online personality that is very different than my own. So the first alarm should have been that he asked me for a picture. He's a great looking guy from his picture, I'm a plain Jane. My picture is not going to impress him. Great. Then I decided to send the picture anyway, this is just a friendship, no big deal. I think I hit strike one, and lost his attention. The conversation shifted.

It shifted to politics. Strike two. I'm not good at keeping up with the views of the world and I hate discussing politics and today's economy. I agree that McDonalds is making a huge profit, but how can we compare something we need (gas to get to McDonalds or our job) to something we think we want (that Big Mac at McDonalds). And McDonalds raises their prices because the cost to ship their food all over is higher with the higher gas prices. He made a comment about one of the candidates, I responded and boom, the conversation went south. Not because we disagreed, but something changed.

I decided to end the conversation before I hit strike three. I need to stick with only talking to people I know or meet in real life instead.

Copyright Law

I'm trying to fix the video I created showing how to use netTrekker d.i. and eChalk together. Unfortunately, I broke my mic on the way to Georgia and the sound quality on the retake is horrible. So I have to re-do a few of the selections and need it to be quiet in the house. Must wait for tonight.

Anyway, as I closed the project I saw the latest eSchool News in my inbox. One of the articles was about the YouTube Law Suit that they say will have an effect on the school's application of using Web 2.0 tools. I have not read the article in full yet, so I don't have the details.

But the title of it reminded me of another article where this kid who had an awesome voice auditioned for American Idol, had a real great chance of making it, but then goofed up on his final audition in a major way (showing more ego than Simon) and therefore never made the show. It was for the best because he'd NEVER have beat out David Cook, and I don't think he'd have been able to cope to losing. Anyway, now that American Idol has crowned the new King, this kid (okay, Josiah Lemming), gave an interview to MTV and said that [American Idol] "it's glorified karaoke -- they pick people with pretty faces and the pretty voices, and they don't let them write their own songs," he explained to MTV News. "They pick these good-looking people with voices, and they have them sing these songs that other people have written. And therefore, it lacks passion, it lacks emotion and it lacks the things that set an artist off from being good to being great. So that's my feeling on it."

Hmmm. David Cook fans would disagree. And I think so would David A.'s fans. David Cook for one had the talent to play with the arrangements and put some passion and soul. The proof though will be in the pudding, when David Cook sells more records than this kid.

But as Tom would say, I digress for the real reason I am about to post. It's not about the number of records David Cook will sell, it's about the whole karaoke deal. I'm going to guess that even a show like American Idol has to pay royalties for each song they play. Their royalties are probably lower than what they would have to pay the contestant if the contestant were to sing their own song. Or, American Idol knows that if they let David Cook sing one of his songs, then David Cook (or other artists) will have to sign the rights over to the show for the use of that song. The copyright use of that song would cause an issue too. Did David Cook write the song himself? Did he have a partner? Do they have to pay for the use of the song to both the performer and the artists. No, it's easier if they buy a song list from various record companies and tell the kids to go at it.

Which is why schools who are creating those wonderful DVD Yearbooks need to be careful before using today's popular music for the slideshows. Are they paying for the rights to use that music? Are they paying the RIGHT people for those rights? Is there a limited time on those rights? (American Idol pulled all the songs at the end of the season. I would bet that part of it is due to paying royalties for using the songs.)

Just some blabberings.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

DimDim is Bright!

One of the definitions that Webster Dictionary gives for dim is lacking pronounced, clear-cut, or vigorous quality or character. So when a product is called Dimdim, it makes you wonder if maybe the product is not going to be of quality.
But, it could also mean that the rest of us are being dim if we're not using this tool.
First, Dimdim is FREE! Now hopefully that has your attention. Now to the meat of the product. Dimdim is a web conferencing service, where you can share your desktop with others, show your presentations, chat in a given area, use VOIP, use a webcam to broadcast live and the next best thing - NOTHING TO DOWNLOAD!
The only drawback for some is that it only allows 20 people at a time to log on. Now for a very small cost you can get the pro, where more can log in. There will also be ads for the free version, but if you're like me - you probably have learned to ignore them.
Okay, so that's what it says up front. Now lets check it out.
It was pretty easy to sign up. That's a plus.
Now time to start a meeting.
Pretty easy. Oh, wait - I had to download a plug-in. Thought there wasn't suppose to be anything to install? Hmmm. A bit misleading to the average computer user. So I download the plugin and I restart Firefox.
Two buttons on the left offer me a chance to either share the desktop or the whiteboard.
The one to share the desktop is giving me a fit. Says there's another meeting open. Wonder what that's about. Nothing else but this blog is open.
Oh, and my email and my messenger program.
Skip that.
The whiteboard wasn't too bad. All participants were able to draw.
Was only able to share a PowerPoint or a PDF file. Not Excel.
I didn't check out VOIP and Video because I'm on the PC that does not have those items built in. I'll try it later on my Mac. And maybe even see what's going on with my sharing desktop.
So be bright bright and try Dimdim.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Inspirational Quotes and How I Killed George Burns

Karen Seddon has another great posting about how she uses Inspirational Quotes in the classroom. She asked us to leave our favorite quote on her website as a comment. So I did. Mine is from George Burns. One night, during my senior year spring break on a late night TV show, George Burns said, "It's better to fail at something you love, than to succeed at something you hate." Year was 1991. What show? I can't remember. I know I went to the beach the next day and kept quoting it over and over, that was the last time I wore a bikini, and I won a bet by getting a fake tattoo. But I can't remember what late night tv show I was watching.
So when I realized I wasn't into the drama off the stage that often came with theatre and movies, I changed my career path to education. Yeah, I prefer the drama there. George's quote inspired me to try a different route, and I was pretty happy teaching the kids in the Gingerbread Theatre classes.
So how did I kill George Burns? Well in High School I told a friend of mine that I would know I was a success the day I got to star in a movie with George Burns. She commented on the fact that he was old and I told her not to worry - he wasn't going to die until we starred in that movie together.
It was around Spring Break (again) and I was back home (March 1996). I ran into that old friend and we caught up. I was getting ready to graduate with my degree in education and she was a bit shocked. She asked me about starring in the movie with George and joked about me putting him off indefinitely like that wasn't a very nice thing to do. I nonchalently said that George could go ahead and rest in peace now and die now, I was going into education. I didn't mean it literally! But the next day she called and informed me that I killed George Burns! Possibly of a broken heart because I was giving up my dream. Either way, I was horrified!
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I killed George Burns. (But don't sue me for it. I was no where near him and unless he really was God there is no way he could have heard me!)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Making it Work

I wanted to create a project folder to showcase in Palm Beach, FL for a recent training. I love project based learning, giving students the rubrics up front, and organizing projects in order to keep everyone on task. Since it was time to celebrate Earth Day (which should be celebrated every day), I decided to have students do a project on recycling.
I used netTrekker d.i. to gather my resources. First I created a folder about recycling. Then, I put images in one folder and websites in another (a folder within a folder structure). Then, using the new Template that is offered in My Portfolio by netTrekker d.i., I added the directions. I love the user-defined template! I added the title, gave the intro to the project in the description spot, and in the body I added the task/directions, the evaluation, and the conclusion. That's right, it's somewhat based on a WebQuest.
Now I ran into a problem when it came to posting the rubric. I wanted to use my favorite rubric builder - MyT4L.com. However, it produces either an HTML document you must host somewhere or an Excel File. I cannot upload documents into netTrekker d.i.'s My Portfolio, so what's a teacher to do? I used Zoho. I uploaded the Excel file into my Zoho account, made it a public URL and then added this external link to My Porfolio. I'm not printing out my rubric only for it to be trashed or lost or made into an airplane and my students still have access to it.
The other thing I wanted to do was have my students watch a video from BrainPop. I have an account from BrainPop, so I added the direct link to the videos I wanted them to watch and in the description I reminded them of the username/password. It was nice that everything is right there for them to view and I'm not sending them off into many directions.
The final project itself was a multimedia "commercial" sharing a simple way to help save the Earth and why you should carry out this simple step. Students could use one of the great multimedia tools from Tech4Learning, PhotoStory, or MovieMaker or other multimedia program of their choice. They used netTrekker d.i. to find images, articles, and other sites of interest to help with the background information needed for the project. Students also wrote a blog entry with their own take on the project.
Now I need to share that information with my students. One way is to bookmark the folder and place it into the school or district folder in netTrekker d.i. But I work with a few schools that are huge and they wanted another way of sharing that folder. We (participants in a meeting) brainstormed a few ideas and one SMART man gave the perfect option.
If you use a Learning Management System (LMS) or Course/Content Management System (CMS) such as eChalk, BlackBoard, Learning Village, Moodle or other program, you can right click on the folder and copy the shortcut and paste it into that location. First, I need to click on EDIT, ADVANCED OPTIONS, and make sure my students have the right to view that folder. Then I right click on the folder, copy shortcut, and paste.

So here's my link to that recycling project: http://middle.nettrekker.com/saver/?id=20275516

Let me guess, you tried to click on that link and it won't let you in? That's right. You can only view folders that belong to the account you are registered to. So if your district has an account, even though you are registered to a school, you'll be able to see folders within your district. Your work is protected! If you are IP Authenticated, it takes you straight to the folder. If you have to log in, once you log in it will take you directly to that folder.

With budget crunches and time savers desperately needed, it's nice to see how products work together. It's always been my firm belief that if products play nicely together, then those are the ones I should invest in. Knowing that netTrekker d.i. works with my LMS/CMS, other web tools, and keeps my students safe- well, I'd be more likely to invest.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Public Servant?

Oh my goodness! As everyone knows, education budgets are being cut nationwide, and Florida is being hit extremely hard with a bill that was passed in January due to misleading information.
So what's my oh my goodness remark about? Our politicians have FREE insurance. That's right - FREE! They do not pay a premium for their insurance. One politician was seen on Bay News 9 saying that he's a public servant and that he gave up a lot to go into service for his state.
Hello? You're doing a service? What about the police officers and the firefighters who do a service? I bet they pay a premium for their insurance - and they RISK their lives in the line of duty. What about the teachers who are qualified for other fields in corporate America, could earn a lot more money, but instead live pay check to pay check because they are dedicated? And we hold them to a very high standard - higher than our politicians who get the perks for being a servant to our society.
But here we have politicians who have their ENTIRE family on the FREE plan. It costs 1.5 million dollars for taxpayers to cover these politicians and their families. Only six of the 160 opt out and use the insurance their full time employer has to offer.
Wait, it gets better!
Our high level state workers also get this beautiful fringe benefit. The total bill for their FREE, no premium insurance is $278,000,000. Yes, that is Two hundred seventy-eight MILLION dollars.
They could pay a premium and save us at least $46,000,000.
My dad is retired Air Force and when he retired he chose to keep his TriCare. Now my mom worked for a school district and they offered this great additional service for TriCare covered employees that was FREE. The state finally said, "whoa, that's not legal. They have to pay for something." So they are. It was worth it in the long run because their premium still cost less than what they saved.
So why isn't it illegal here I wonder? We can cut educational programs, health insurance coverage of others, but we cannot get our politicians to pay a premium for their own insurance?
One billion was cut from the education and health care budgets in Florida. $46 million could be given back.
If teachers, police officers, and

Monday, April 21, 2008


I got home from training in Seminole today around 9:30. I went upstairs to check on Joey - and he's asleep.

By 9:30, he was asleep.

WOW! I moved the toys out of his bed, crawled in next to him, kissed his cheeks and snuggled with him for a few minutes. He really was sleeping. And he'd been great and calmer for the past few days. I mean SUPER DUPER WONDERFUL! Do I thank God that he's off the Depakote? Is it the 6 MG of Melatonin that I should be thankful for?

In all honesty, I'm just thankful. Prayers were answered. I just hope that it continues along these lines. So I really am thankful to God.

And now I can play! I have some great sites to check out that Jonathan Decker in Palm Beach shared with me this past week. Can't believe I actually have time.

Because Joey is actually asleep on time.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

American Idol Gives Back

Tonight my family watched American Idol Gives Back. The stories were very touching, and even made Joey pause, ask questions, and offer his piggy bank up. Simon showed his sense of humor. I even liked the Googlillion (or however it's spelt) that Ben Stiller was commenting on. It was beautiful and funny and touching.

Until the end. And then it was ruined.

Ben Stiller, this was a family show on a very touching topic. WHY did you have to end it with those cuss words to be bleeped out? I'm sure Joey's not the only kid asking what you were saying and why was it being bleeped. The monologue started off funny, but was ruined with that and sad to say, it made me close iTunes and put down the phone. I paused long enough to write this and then Joey and I are going to go read a book. But I wanted to let you know- in case anyone in your PR area has a Google Alert set up to know what people are saying about you - that one of your biggest fans was very embarrassed by that stint tonight and made me do a double take. I'm ashamed for you right now.

And it's too late for you to take it back.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Copyright and Education

I love the copyright law, but really appreciate the way Fair Use protects education. I did my final project for my masters degree on the copyright law and education, and while I made an enemy of one teacher - I got my A! I'll also be the first to admit that I believe I have violated the copyright law somehow, one way or another, by accident - but never for a class project and never for a competetion.

Basically under Fair Use, you may use 5 images or 10% of a website, which ever is less. So if a student uses 1 image from a website for a project - then it falls under fair use. HOWEVER, if they are going to make that project available online, they lose the Fair Use Coverage. Double checked on the use of Fair Use for educational purposes, and once that project hits the open web, you lose those rights granted to you under Fair Use for educational purposes. Now if it is on a secure site that is unsearchable except by log-in users, then you are okay. Just make sure it is known WHY the presentation or website cannot go public.

What if they are using a template from a site such as BrainyBetty or an open source document/page layout? I would still document the source. The creator is not getting paid for it, but props is always nice.

What if it is from the Smithsonian or an actual Public Domain site? Check thier rules for use, and again- it only takes a few strokes of the keys to actually document it on a works cited page.

What if you paid for the collection? Then say images/media came from a paid subcription from XYZ and then send them back to that site. One site I use to use would even pay for the referral if people actually clicked on your site to get to theirs. It's all part of CYA.

What if it's a free streaming media site, such as You Tube, and you're going to embed a video from their site to your blog or web page? There are rules that apply. For You Tube, you must not download the video and then upload it to your site. (You should not be able to download the video!) You should embed the video and link back to the original source.

What about a video from a site such as Discovery Streaming that says that you have the right to edit it and is used in a digital storytelling piece? Again, just document the source. Teachers Domain also has some great videos that they don't mind you sharing with others. All they want is credit back to their own website.

Teaching students how to use a tool like the Citation Machine from David Warlick or The Citation Maker from Tech4Learning would be a smart thing to do.

So teachers, when you teach your students multimedia, WebPage Design or anything else that might be posted on the web, teach them how to cite their sources and encourage them to list each source, even if they think it's Public Domain. It's part of CYA - Cover Your Assets so you don't get in trouble later. Especially if it is something that will appear on the web, in an unsecured location and is part of a searchable page.

Oh, and let's all practice what we teach.

For those who need a chart to follow: http://www.copyright.cornell.edu/public_domain/

Monday, March 3, 2008


This post is for me to vent. It's not really meant for anyone to read, and since my readership is so low - I have nothing to worry about.

It's frustrating as an educator to have a child who does not want to learn or who has put up such blocks to where learning is just impossible. We're going through the hoops right now to get him a 504 plan because of increased seizure activity, but I'm also trying to get him re-tested. He was tested in 2006 and the test results said low IQ, no disability. So what that translates to is that he's the child who will get left behind. Well since 2006, he's been diagnosed with seizures (petite mal's in the form of absent seizures) that we think are starting to increase even more with the medicine or turning into grand mals. We just had a third sleep study and I hope that it tells us something. But academically it won't. Wouldn't the seizures have an effect on his learning? More than just needing extra time on a test as the 504 will give him, but more like impacting his ability to learn and recollect the lessons later and apply them to other areas in his life or other lessons? Am I wrong in requesting a second testing?

So one of the things we were offered was medical homebound. We turned it down quickly, but I'm beginning to think I should take it. It might be just what Joey needs until his medicine is settled, his seizures are under control, and maybe with one on one help from his homebound teacher he'll start to learn. I'm not crazy over the idea of him staying home all day while I'm trying to work, but I'm not crazy over him failing again. Because it's not him failing - it's me failing him and the system failing him. (He's got a GREAT teacher, so I don't blame her one bit. It's the rest of the system that ties teachers hands and only look at the children who can bring them in extra money for programs or are "bubble" children that can easily be lifted to the next level.)

He wants to learn. He really does. But I think he's given up on himself. So do I go through with the medical homebound and keep pushing the school for other assistance? I can't afford the Sylvan Learning tuition to go that route, but I can't afford for him to give up on himself so young or think I have. What are my choices? 

That's him at his last hospital stay. He's such a cutie, and really is my joy. (My PIA too, but that's part of being a kid!) He was ready to enjoy a 48 hour time of playing video games, watching TV, and ordering WHATEVER HE wanted to eat until 11. Only problem was his hunger streak starts at 10 and lasts until 2 AM, so it was hard to remember to order food that would stay okay to eat for those times. 

So how do I not fail him like the system already has?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Abe Lincoln

When I was in 3rd grade I had to write a report about Abraham Lincoln. I remember falling asleep in the library at school while reading a book about him. Not because the book was boring, but because the new couch was really comfortable.

Zoe, my niece, is in second grade. Not only does she have to learn about Abraham Lincoln, but she has create a fact sheet and a puppet. Aunt Dani is making her turn the fact sheet into a PhotoStory, but that's just for fun.

We're using netTrekker to find the web resources and images. But I found another great source for her to get some great information, and she didn't fall asleep watching it.

It's BrainPop, Jr. For those of you haven't seen it lately, go check it out. Not only did Zoe watch the video, but there were other goodies too. One of the things I liked about the video was that it gave tips on how to take notes. On the side of the video was a notebook and Annie used it to write the question that segment was answering.

The other thing I liked was that it gave Zoe suggestions for what other age-appropriate books she should read, a cute little joke, a comic (which was the only thing she went "hmmm" on) and other activities. I liked the activity that was designed to get the class to start talking and the writing activity. Zoe on the other hand liked the craft activity and said it was perfect for the puppet that she has to make.

She has also decided to create her digital story with a similar touch as BrainPop. She's going to draw the pictures either on the computer or by hand and then scan them in. They won't be animated like BrainPop, but at least she'll have the concept available to use.

Joey and I wrote to BrainPop this afternoon and asked what were seizures. He wants to share the video with his classmates. I hope they answer!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Seiures and ADHD

My son, Joey, was diagnosed with ADHD in first grade. He was a struggling learner and had a hard time paying attention, so we weren't surprised. And his father was diagnosed with ADHD, so if it was hereditary - then we figured it was passed down. Joey's also never been a sleeper. His nurse would tell you that it's my fault because I woke him up at 3 in the morning to see him the night he was born. He was born on 2/16 at 10:16 weighing 8lbs 15 oz. His pop pop said to throw him back he wasn't a 9 pounder. But when Joey was born, he was also a bit blue and full of gunk. They took him to clear him. Plus, it was a natural birth and I needed some attention. I didn't get to hold Joey and was quite upset about it. So I kept asking for him. The nurse told me he'd never sleep through the night and it was my fault for setting the precedent.
So in 2006 when he was diagnosed with absent seizures that primarily took place during his sleep and explained some of his behavior and his lack of quality sleep, I felt the burden lift. We knew the problem.
The nice thing was my first insurance covered all of it. So the testing was fine and the medicine was manageable.
Now my insurance has changed and it's getting expensive. That's not what this blog is about though. It's about the fact that we are still left wondering as to what's going on with Joey.

He was changed to Focalin last year and his grades improved. He was finally getting on grade level and was able to comprehend things. We were thrilled. But then he started getting aggressive and that's not good. And his sleeplessness was coming back. The Clonidine wasn't helping. So they ordered another sleep study. Those are expensive, but I figured it would be worth it if we found out what was going on.

His Depakote, for seizures, was upped. He was prescribed Vyvanse, a pro-drug, for ADHD.

He wasn't as aggressive, but his grades flatlined. He's failing again and can't remember simple things like 2+2 or what he did for his birthday last year. He remembers Joe, Josh and Jay from 3 years before, but not last year. Can't remember the title of the book we had been reading or what happened in the chapter the night before. And then school started reporting to me that he was having a loss of bowel movements, sleeping in class, waking up dizzy and disoriented. Staring off into space for longer periods of time, confused about where he was, and then walking like he was drunk. Last week he totally fell asleep, but was clenching his fists and drooling. I had to carry him out to my car he was so out of it. Today his school called because he fell asleep, fell out of his chair, hit the ground so hard the teacher from the next room came running over to make sure all was okay - and he never woke. He slept from 6:30-9 last night and then 10 PM until this morning.He should not have been tired.

So we have another sleep study scheduled for later this month. I hope it reveals something for us so we can help him.

But here's something else I found out. Focalin's prescription paper from the pharmacist says not to administer with Clonidine or Depakote. It even says that it should not be administered to children with abnormal EEG's and are prone to seizures because it can actually increase seizure activity. Vyvanse's paperwork that came from the company never mentioned seizures as a side effect. But guess what? On the detailed sheet that's not so pronounced on their website and on the pharmacy sheet my mom was reading on Friday night, it says the same thing. Do not give to children like Joey. I called my cousin, a research pharmacist, and he said the same thing. CVS's website (Caremark) says the same thing. My doctor said that it was an old warning and they are okay to prescribe together. Who do I believe? The doctor or the druggists? (And the druggists didn't catch this. They gave me the paperwork, it was my responsibility to read it and check with my doctor.)

I did call Vyvanse and report it to the nurse who has to record all information for the FDA. What good will it be? I don't know. But in all honesty - I'm at a loss. Joey is no where near the desperate case of some- but he shouldn't have to be going through this. He's never going to be ready for third grade at this rate, and I don't know how much more of the antics he's been displaying lately I can take. Discipline is hard, and getting harder. We have to be careful not to discipline the medical issues, but sometimes it's hard to tell what is a true behavior issue.

His teacher has been patient. I've been blessed with his teachers at Pine Grove. They truly are an A school and I'm glad we're there. And his music teachers are making sure he continues in guitar since that's a time period he seems to calm down in and can focus. I have many blessings. It's time for Joey to get the one he needs with answers to his issues.

It's 11:43 and he's wide awake and hungry. Time to go deal.