Saturday, December 31, 2005
The same could be said of my personal growth and development in technology. Until NECC at the end of June - which I attended virtually, thanks to some wonderful bloggers - I felt like I had been treading water with tech use and integration for the past five years.
So, I look forward to continuing to learn, continuing to be inspired by others leading the way with all the new stuff, learning to use the new apps that are sure to appear in 2006, and passing all this on to my third graders! It will be a good year! Happy New Year!
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Monday, December 26, 2005
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Monday, December 19, 2005
Since the weather forecast calls for lots of rain, we'll probably do more book reading than bird watching - maybe. We certainly hope to see a few of the snowy owls that have been reported there.
Friday, December 16, 2005
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
There was some negative response to a message I posted today. The whole reason I do tictech is to give folks one more way to communicate, discuss, share ideas, etc. - to encourage discussion, not to limit it. So I'm really sorry I offended anybody. My message was one of excitement and enthusiasm. Obviously, it did not work that way for everyone - but another viewpoint was expressed in the process, and as Martha would say, that's a good thing. I encourage folks to freely express ideas, share discoveries, ask questions, and engage in debate. There is a lot to discuss in edtech land right now, and that's what tictech is here for. - Mark
Thursday, December 08, 2005
- 12/1, to classblogmeister:Re: Promoting Blogging to parents
- 12/3, to wwwedu: How can a blog hurt? (was Re: [WWWEDU] School Blogging Policies)
- 12/5, to wwwedu: student blogging
- 12/5, to tictech: FW: student blogging
- 12/7, to classblogmeister: Re: starbucks gift card
- 12/7, to classblogmeister: Re: Looking for students blogging ideas...
Plus a few forwards of some of these to other lists, minor comments, etc
Sunday, December 04, 2005
They don't know that when my kids write, I approve every word before it appears on their blog. That I can and do edit, that I send their writing back to them with comments about how it needs to be improved before it can appear on their blog.
They don't know that I can approve, edit, or delete any comments to student blogs before they appear.
They don't know that we have a blogger's contract, thanks to David Warlick, that all kids have signed, and that we refer to contantly.
They don't know how much I worry about my kids' safety online.
They don't know that my classroom computers all face the center of the room, so that I can see all of them all the time.
They don't know that my kids have absolutely taken off with this, that they blog from home. That they stay in from recess, reading blogs from other kids, writing comments on other kids' writing, composing their own next entries.
They don't know that I have never seen more motivation to write well in 14 years of teaching third graders. That kids blog from home, that their parents are commenting on their blogs, aunts and grandmas, cousins and siblings - all giving public feedback.
They don't know that I am a capable teacher, someone they can trust with kids.
They don't know that blogging, along with rss, holds the biggest potential for positive educational experiences using technology since - well, since web pages became commonplace. Like about 10 years ago.
It's clear to me that what I've just said here isn't so much about what's good about blogging, as it is just providing background, setting the table for my answer - which will come later.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
First the progress. My class is doing an incredible job in their new blogging environment at roomtwelve.com. I've never seen so much enthusiasm for writing. We're talking kids wanting to come in at recess, read their writing and the writing of other kids - from Seattle to New York to New Zealand, write comments on the writing of others - or add new content to their own blogs. It is absolutely incredible. Many grownups are writing eloquently about this, and I try my best to stay current with a few, but it does take time. Still, every time I look at the blogs of David Warlick, Andy Carvin, Will Richardson, and Tim Lauer, I find something fantastic, some new tool, some great way of thinking about what's going on in tech right now in school, etc. Rss feeds to those guys' blogs are on the right of this page.
The struggle has been to fit all this in to the school day. Kids shouldn't have to come in at recess to write, for goodness sake. They ought to be able to do it right in class. So what are we doing in class that's so much more important than blogging? Gosh, I'm digging myself into a hole it will take way too long to get out of.
I will say the biggest impediment is to have to spend so much class time implementing a mandated (schoolwide) writing curriculum that has no tech component. Not a mention of a computer - ever. Kids are expected to write with pencil and paper for an hour a day, five days a week, much of it in those little Mead notebooks we all remember from our childhood. I feel like I'm back in 1956.
So I've tried to re-create, re-constitute, or whatever this curriculum into a classroom environment that has 17 multimedia computers with high speed Internet access, an LCD projector - and where the third graders, after two months, are extremely facile and fluid with a computer. They learn new things quickly. They share, they teach each other, and they enjoy it, take pride in their ownership and prowess.
Adapting this tech-less writing curriculum while starting the kids out blogging has been a challenge, to say the least. Sometimes it's too much. The kids want to spend more time writing on their blogs. They struggle gamely with the one story they have been working on for over a month in our writing curriculum. We'll finish the story up, but their hearts are not in it. It's a struggle.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
If you are looking for some entertaining kid storytelling, head over to http://roomtwelve.com and read what they said. They will start appearing there by 1:00 Wed, and should all be there by Thanksgiving morning. You might even find a few good "leads" and "hot spots" :) Feel free to add comments! Several of my kids blog from home, and would be very excited to hear from folks. Happy Thanksgiving! - Mark
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Anyway, we are very sad today. We had seen her in the park for the last six years or so, hunting on at least three occasions, eating on a few more... We will still look at her roost atop a tree in the redwood grove, where we saw her dozens of times. That's where she sits in this picture, which I took about a month before she died.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Monday, November 14, 2005
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Here's what I'll try. I'll post the title of the message, linked to the archived message, so if it looks interesting enough, somebody can go from this space to my list message.
Here's what I posted to tictech, the list I moderate, tonight:
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Naturally, it was very chaotic, but a lot of fun at the same time. It didn't take long for somebody to figure out how to change their blog template, and pretty soon everybody had to give that a try. Then there were a few who got their message posted in their description field - but I think we managed to get everybody straightened out. A couple of kids were not there for this, and a couple more did not actually get theirs posted, so I will work with them individually on Monday.
At the end of the day, I mentioned making comments to blogs. In retrospect, I should not have done that - just too much to talk about before suggesting they try commenting on each others' writing. Anyway, several kids posted comments from home on Friday. A couple were ok, but most had several errors in spelling, punctuation, and capitalization - but the main reason I did not approve them was because they were simply not appropriate for our blog. Sounded more like chat room or IM stuff - which their blog will definitely not become. So I deleted all the comments. I'll have some explaining to do on Monday :)
But I am very proud of my kids. In their articles, they wrote well, and they wrote with purpose. I'm VERY excited to see where this will take us.
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Tomorrow I'm doing a slap dash one hour tech inservice in our computer lab - all about the new stuff: rss, blogs, podcasts, etc. For a change, I'm going to try and focus on presenting information that staff may use first for themselves - and not even really worry about classroom implications. Oh sure, I'll show some classroom applications, but I figure if some of this sticks with a few folks, they'll get into it, and it will come into the classroom naturally - because they see the potential, the need, understand the application, and are ready to try it - rather than, "here's what you really ought to try in your classroom - it's not that hard!" There is no better way to turn off a teacher, no matter what the topic.
Tonight we went to the opening night of the brand new Barnes and Noble in West Seattle. It's really exciting to have such a great business so close to us. Ran into a couple of Arbor Heights folks, including one of my kids. But we really had fun talking with Darwin. He's having a great time working there (sort of, I think), and we've had lots to talk about lately, as he and Rebecca have been working hard on the art design for Janeanne's new CD, The Shining Place. It's going to be beautiful.
Better tool off and grade a few papers - busy day again tomorrow.
Friday, October 21, 2005
In my daily reading group, there are kids from all three third grade classrooms. Today, for the first time, I put them each (15) on a computer for a writing assignment. The content was not hard - the challenging part was the medium. As I assigned computers, I put kids from my own classroom in places where they could help the others, who I knew would have problems - and I explained this to the kids, too. Naturally, my kids felt pleased I was counting on them to help teach - and they did a great job helping the others.
My kids write on a computer at least twice a day. After six weeks of third grade, their word processing skills are getting pretty good. In contrast, the other third graders who came in were stumped at times, with questions like, "how do I get down to the next line?" or "how do I erase that?" Truly, there were kids from my class who quietly shook their heads in disbelief.
I figure my school is pretty typical. My classroom is not, in terms of tech usage and integration. The gap I saw today, after just the beginning of the school year, will widen as the school year goes on.
I don't know what to make of this exactly, except to feel bad that others are being left in tech dust. I truly believe this early prep will make my kids not only stronger masters of technology as they go through school - but better learners of systems - more adaptable, flexible, and curious - and stonger, more confident learners in general.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
I am concerned over the drastic reduction of computer use in our school so far this year. The lab is used rarely. Some classrooms still don't even have their computers plugged in. Way too many demands incompatible with computer use are on the plates of teachers. We still have no budget for technology or tech support.
But on the bright side, the PTSA has approved the use of a blog I set up (http://ahptsa.blogspot.com). This should be a great way to get out timely news, meeting minutes, etc. I wonder how many will tak advantage of an rss feed? I have a feeling quite a few - if content is added regularly. Plus, a couple of officers may become blog members and join in on the posting process. This is very encouraging!
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Monday, October 03, 2005
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Friday, September 16, 2005
I still have not decided how to respond to the criticism that came to me from suggesting admininstrators talk directly with classroom teachers about technology. Have spent way too much time writing and crumpling up virtual replies to individuals - or the list, must decide what to do soon. Writing in my classroom and fitting it in to the new writing program still continues to eat up chunks of my time and leaves me anxious. Wish I had an answer there. But then I get a request from Andy Carvin to guest moderate wwwedu for a few days. Being more involved with a larger community on issues near and dear will be nice.
Then the local scene has been hard in terms of people stuff. The fix for that was attending our school's first PTSA meeting of the year last night. What a wonderful, dedicated group of parents we have. I again feel lucky to be where I am. Must attend more often this year - and spread the word to my colleagues.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
I still don't know how my approach to literacy can possibly fit in to our building mandated adoption of a writing curriculum with no tech component.
It's funny how the wind can go out of your sails so quickly. I started the year so high on technology - exciting ideas, sparked by inspirational educators, I just couldn't wait to get back in the classroom and get after it.
I have to find the spark again. Time to follow some blogs more closely, read some more.
Monday, September 12, 2005
This decision leaves me absolutely stunned. It comes on the heels of a weekend article in the Seattle Times about the huge amounts of money school districts (particularly Seattle) are spending on their "crown jewel" high schools.
So, elementary folks are outraged that they are being shorted because the projections weren't exactly accurate. Here is what I say to those making such decisions:
It is a clear no-brainer that the newest, best, and fastest technology MUST go to the youngest students first. No question, no discussion. The best does NOT go first to the oldest students. Ask any educator. Ask anyone who understands the educational process, the way kids learn, and a little bit about technology.
Several years ago I sat next to John Stanford (Joseph O. was the finance guy at the time, sitting across the table), surrounded by all the suits representing technology in the district (with execs from IBM and Microsoft). I was one of two teachers asked to sit in with this group, as they were planning the strategic implementation of an upcoming technology levy. I expressed the above idea to them when they asked how money ought to be allocated. They listened. They said, "Yes, that makes good sense, thank you". It is so very discouraging that big decisions like this are still made based on an outdated and groundless model of deciding who should get the best and fastest equipment.
This space is too short and my time is too limited to go into explaining why this is so. I suggest administrators get together with classroom teachers (not those who have not taught for several years, but those who are front of a classroom every day) and listen to what I am talking about.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Thursday, September 08, 2005
So today, half went over to computers while half stayed at their desks and wrote. Managed to open yesterday's documents, add to them, save and exit. I was able to get around to everyone, at desk or computer, in a ten minute period. The desk workers were good observers of the computer process. Wow - they were great! Small, patient steps, remember, remember....
And yet, after just this small beginning, I can clearly see kids who will go so much farther using technology than last year's class. They are already so much more comfortable at a computer than I have ever seen at this age. Next week: Inspiration intro and Excel charting. After that, PowerPoint task analysis and web work. We're off!!
Sunday, September 04, 2005
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Friday, September 02, 2005
A couple of thoughts on Katrina and how to help. I came to school today hoping and trusting that something would come to me. I was up until a few minutes unsure of how I could lend a hand. Then an email came in from the Recording Academy (the Grammy people), suggesting donations to www.grammy.com/musicares
We all are painfully aware of the devastation and destruction in New Orleansand the surrounding areas. As one of our nation's important music cities,it is not only a national tragedy, but a cultural one as well. Afterspending serious time and thought on an appropriate response and action fromour Academy, we have come up with an initial plan reflected in the attachedpress statement, which we are releasing this morning. Although we willcontinue to find ways to take care of those music makers in need, we feelthat the most important goal right now is to get our message out and to takea leadership position which we are uniquely qualified to fill at thiscritical time.
Thanks for your support in what we believe will be one of the mostsignificant and meaningful initiatives for The Recording Academy andMusiCares.
So I'm making my contribution today to http://www.grammy.com/musicares - I think it's important that we contribute in ways and through means that are meaningful to us, that we have a passion for, etc. Below is the press release from the Recording Academy:
Neil Portnow, President
The Recording Academy
Statement on Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts
September 2, 2005
The Hurricane Katrina disaster has been devastating, profound and life altering for its victims, their families, friends and the nation. This is the time when we must come together and take care of those who need our help. Therefore, The Recording Academy, the nonprofit organization that is the voice of thousands of music makers nationwide, along with its MusiCares Foundation, which provides a safety net of critical services for music people in crisis, is committing an initial donation of $1 million for music people affected by Hurricane Katrina.
The MusiCares Hurricane Relief Fund has been set up so these people in crisis can get help. Assistance includes basic living expenses such as shelter, food, utilities, transportation; medical expenses including doctor, dentist and hospital bills, medications; clothing; instrument and recording equipment replacement; relocation costs; school supplies for students; insurance payments and more.
Along with this donation, each of The Academy’s 12 regional Chapters will designate local programming that will continue the fundraising efforts to help the thousands of music people whose lives and livelihoods have been impacted by these tragic events. The Recording Academy, The Latin Recording Academy, MusiCares Foundation and the GRAMMY Foundation also have created a matching fund with their employees to help ensure that music continues to be the thread that brings people together and helps us all heal. We encourage the industry and the world to help in any way they can. To help music people affected by Hurricane Katrina, log on to www.grammy.com/musicares.
# # #
Monday, August 29, 2005
One of the biggest hurdles in getting ready for the year is always setting up the computers. With 15 in my room, it's like setting up a small lab. I'm pretty good with all the wires by now, but this year's big challenge was working around a new heater, which changed the location of 8 of the computers. Four hours later, I had replaced a table, sawed off 8 table legs (and part of the chalkboard tray), and was ready to start hooking up wires. A couple of pictures, both sides of my classroom:
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Biggest moment of yesterday's birding trip to the ocean was the spotting of three lapland longspurs at Midway Beach near Grayland. Besides being lifers for us, these guys are just not that easy to see in WA. Very cool birds - they are "tundra nesters", so they are spending the winter here, where it's balmy :) Worst tech moment of the day was when I discovered the batteries in my camera were dead - head-banging time, as I thought about bringing extras along, but decided not to worry about it.
Most inspiring moment of the trip to the coast was arriving at Bottle Beach 3 1/2 hours before high tide, and sitting back on the sand with scope and binocs, while thousands of migrating shorebirds were brought imperceptibly closer - started out probably 200 yards away, and over a two hour period closed to within 25 yards away - when everybody spooked and flew away. Very cool!
Friday, August 26, 2005
This morning my desktop did something strange and disturbing. Outlook starts and then exits immediately. Have done the usual reboot and so on. Am now running a system scan. Beyond that, I'm hitting the web this evening for help.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
So many exciting tech ideas swirling around in my head - and so much prep necessary to get them in motion.... But first, I have my class list now, so it's time to set up student blog accounts on Blogmeister
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Meanwhile, this little laptop is slowing down to a crawl - trying to do too much, and I'm real impatient with the dail up/aol access - trying not to tie up mom and dad's phone....
Anyway, here'a a picture of me, brother Dave, Dad and Mom having turkey dinner (!) the other night. It's great to be here. Janeanne's comment on looking at this pic was, "where's the green food?" Wish I could say it was out of the picture :)
Monday, August 15, 2005
Well, I'm about to head back to CT, but have a few extra minutes here at home, due to a flight delay - yikes, not a good start.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Well, I just set this blog up, so that people can ask questions, make comments, etc. in a more public way. We'll see how it goes.
I did visit Arbor Heights this afternoon, and there is a LOT of activity going on - from the univent heaters being put in, the classrooms sinks (with filters) are now set, hallway water fountains now have new supply pipes, there were people working in many classrooms (including 16, one of the worst) on air/water stuff, there are holes cut in all classroom walls to expose the roof drains, and there was a crew doing soil/water samples, I guess, on the playground, marking white arrows here and there.
Lots of activity and effort, I guess the big question remains - will it all be done in time for school to start? I sure hope so. And I do think it's possible.
The task force meets again this Friday, with an ambitious agenda. Ever hopeful - Mark
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Then I just made another reservation from Seattle to Hartford. My saved itinerary on Expedia jumped from $403 this morning to $1,400 this evening, so I scurried around and got a good deal ($437) on Continental. Man, it's unnerving being your own travel agent. Good news is I'm earning frequent flyer miles on the same airline as last time. I know i'll be doing this trip a lot more frequently in the near future, helping out with my folks and my brother...
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Monday, August 01, 2005
Most disappointing tech moment (actually the ONLY tech moment) was failing to get this laptop connected to the wireless network at the hotal. Think I better reinstall the card software. When we got home and I checked in to email, etc, it looks like I missed absolutely nothing.
Friday, July 29, 2005
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
I loved reading the blogs from today's sessions - from first timers to some who have been doing this for a while, the ideas expressed are wonderful, thoughtful, insightful - reminds me of what Sundance said to Butch, "Who ARE these guys?!!" I'll learn more tomorrow, I'm sure...
Monday, July 25, 2005
I'm still struggling mightily with how I am going to deal with a school adopted writing program (for a fair chunk of change) that has no tech component. I am ready to move out on my own, with 16 licenses for Inspiration, a classroom blog spot ready to go on blogmeister, digital camera ready to add spice and incentive, plenty of ideas and experience with Excel, Word, and PowerPoint.... It was a 30 to 1 vote to go for this program next year, so I will have no backing from my colleagues. There is so much I'd like to try and explain about where literacy is NOW - and why our kids deserve to be taught with the tools of today, etc, etc....
We are all supposed to have the kids writing with a pencil in Mead notebooks every day. I think I'll contact the folks running the program (Powerful Writers) and see how flexible they are willing to be.
Went in to school this morning to download new virus definitions on this laptop. Also took the opportunity to swap the hd, battery, and ram on my classroom computer with a body that works. I think part of the reason for the trackpoint failure was that the fan wasn't working.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
I was really shocked to read/hear the news about the hotel bombings in Egypt. Something about the name struck me, and then I realized I had gotten a report on the Earth Day Groceries Project this year - from that place! I scrambled to find the report, not sure if I was remembering the name of the hotel, or what was exactly what... re-read the AP coverage, and finally figured out that the hotel sending in the report was part of the same resort community - but was not bombed. Senseless. This brings the world violence to a doorstep very close to my heart. I am so thankful those at the Radisson were not hit directly, but my heart goes out to the families of the other victims - which I am sure include friends and relatives of those from the Radisson:
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Sunday, July 17, 2005
Janeanne had a great rehearsal with pianist Robert and producer Dean on Saturday at PLU in Tacoma. The music is amazing! Really excited (and nervous) about helping out - turning pages and feeding everybody. Hope I can get some good shots with the new camera that will work for the CD booklet...
Friday, July 15, 2005
Is so nice to have a broadband connection again, vs. AOL dialup. Makes me wonder how Amanda (teacher from Arbor Heights) is managing all those emails from Europe. I imagine the next one will be from a beach cafe in Croatia - really! Had to re-install my wireless card, as I think I messed it up, changing settings for the Newark airport. Looking forward to getting on to a little bit faster laptop this school year.
Making progress on the classroom blog site, have played around a bit with a coupla test students. Want to see how realistic it will be for me to do all the editing of their work. Also think it would be nice to have two class sites - one public, one private (class only). We'll see... Am more determined than ever to go this direction instead of Mead notebooks (saw an ad for them in an Office Depot ad last night - great deal - for somebody else!). We'll show folks some Powerful Writers!
Today we meet Marv for a birding lunch, then I hope to go camera shopping - gotta have a new one for Janeanne's recording sessions next week.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
But it is nice to be able to fire up my laptop and get connected. They have wireless access pretty much throughout the airport. The occasional user like me can get 24 hours of service for $6.95 - so I'm gonna get my money's worth :) Gotta keep up with the email anyway.
Sunday, July 03, 2005
Saturday, July 02, 2005
But really exciting today was setting up a classroom blog site through BlogMeister How truly cool! This is exactly the thing I had in mind when I had such a cow last spring about a staff decision to go with a schoolwide writing program with -O- tech component. David Warlick has really created an amazing tool for classroom teachers! Now I have to be sure the district will allow access to that domain.
A big personal relief that my mom had a pacemaker put in today, and is doing great. Go Mom!
Thursday, June 30, 2005
Did manage to order 15 copies of Inspiration for my classroom next year. Not the end all, be all - but it will be part of my tech answer to the all school pencil and paper writing program in the fall. We'll see how it goes.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Am more determined than ever to MOVE ON in these areas of technology in my classroom this year - in spite of reluctance of my colleagues and lack of leadership from those who could make a difference. Am still reeling from the all school adoption of a writing program that has NO tech component. We'll be writing in Mead composition books, for goodness sakes - talk about returning to the 19th century. I thought I left them behind in jr. high school.
For this reason, it it especially exciting and encouraging to read and hear the thoughts of those at the head of the pack. Anyway, my plans are to move into the regular use of Inspiration, explore the possibilities of blogging with my third graders., and so on.
Read about Andy Carvin's panel presentation at NECC - ten years on the web for wwwedu, luminaries like Bonnie Bracey, Ed Gragert, David Warlick - wished I could have heard it - and then I did, via Andy's podcast. Today I updated the Young Authors' Conf. web page at Arbor Heights for the ELEVENTH year. Made me think about how things have changed and remained the same - and how I've sat too still this past year.
Very cool voices speaking. Steve Dembo also has some real interesting things to say in his blog. Can't wait for reports from tomorrow.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
The last one led me on to Bremerton's Jeff Allen's blog - which led me on to Conn McQuinn's - so, it is good to hear about some local folks out there.
Speaking of local, I did get a couple of personal responses to my posting to tictech asking about local blogs. Great hear from them - really lifts to the spirit, but I wish folks weren't so shy about posting back to the list.
Monday, June 27, 2005
Just posted a note to tictech, asking if anybody in the area is blogging edtech stuff. I sure don't hear much about it locally, but the national stuff (like at NECC right now) is pretty impressive and cool.