Saturday, September 24, 2005


originally uploaded by mahlness.
Staff at Arbor Heights counting coins on Friday afternoon, after kids filled up the giant mason jar in a week... $811.50... and one more week to go! All proceeds, plus a matching $1,000 from staff will go to the Humane Society, to help the animals affected by Katrina.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Coins for Katrina Relief

Coins for Katrina Relief
Coins for Katrina Relief,
originally uploaded by mahlness.
Here's the giant coin jar being topped off after a week's worth of kids bringing in coins. Tomorrow the teachers will empty it (so we can fill it up again next week!), and count it. We'll also weigh it, just for fun. Proceeds will go to the Humane Society to help animals affected by Katrina - matched by up to $1,000.00 from personal school staff donations.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Signs of hope, looking ahead...

It's funny how sometimes good things come from unexpected places - to lift you out of a rut, show the puropose, or whatever...

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

The world is not as flat as I thought

Well, I think I managed to alienate most anybody I've spoken with about technology in the past couple of days - from asking the upstairs teachers at school not to put a table with a paper cutter in front of the white board in the computer lab - to probably every secondary teacher, tech support person, and tech administrator in the district (see previous post). Tomorrow I lead a discussion of tech issues at our building staff meeting. I've prepared and emailed everybody the key points, but we need at least half a day to get anywhere on this, and I have 20 minutes. I know folks will be frustrated. And then to pass on the news they will not get what I told them they would be getting.

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

elementary schools go first

There is a spirited discussion raging in one section of the Seattle district email system. It is about the changing of what the district promised its schools from the tech levy. I will not go on about the details, but I will summarize the changes by saying elementary schools are getting much less than they were told to expect.

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


originally uploaded by
This project I did in 1980 or 1981 in a class taught by Marvin Oliver at the UW. Designed and painted totally freehand, hard to believe these days (12x16). We were learning all the symbols, rules of design and color of the NW Coast Native Americans. The design is comprised of two killer whales facing each other (tails join at the bottom, noses and mouths touch at the top). I finally photographed this after I got inspired by a posting of wonderful resources by Wes Felty, on Tictech.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

First two days

Well, the first two days with my new class are history, and I think the kids and I have both learned a lot. The first day I bit off a way too big a tech bite - sent the whole class over to computers - a doer and an observer/helper, open Word, try and type a heading, then try to save - and THEN switch places. Demonstrated on the laptop/projector beforehand, but this was just plain too much, and I should have known better. I was just so hoping to skip some of the basic stuff, hoping it had become second nature, I guess. Wrong. Whatever was I thinking?

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

Banner ads and web sites

It's been a long time since I've even considered putting a banner ad on the school web site. But the Katrina disaster requires we all put ourselves out there as never before. So I added links to the Red Cross and the Humane Society to the Arbor Heights home page:

Arbor Heights Home Page

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Ed Tech Coast to Coast

I just listened to a 40 minute podcast that was fascinating: Ed Tech Coast to Coast, with Tim Wilson (MN), Tim Lauer (Portland, OR), and Will Richardson (NJ) on “barriers to technology implementation”. A must listen for anyone hoping to get teachers to use technology more. These guys speak from experience, and they have a very good understanding of the barriers that get in the way - as well as a lot of good ideas for overcoming those barriers.

Friday, September 02, 2005

International blogging for disaster relief day

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

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 - 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

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Media Contact:
Ron Roecker