Saturday, October 29, 2005

Beauty berry surprise

Beauty berry surprise
Beauty berry surprise,
originally uploaded by mahlness.
As I was framing the beauty berry shot, I heard a hummingbird zooming around. Sometimes you just sort of point, shoot, hope, and get very lucky. This male Anna's hummingbird was very interested in this bush at twilight in Seattle on October 29th.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Workshop going on

Well, we are sitting here in the lab exploring a little about blogs, rss, and whatever!. Unfortunately, my camera wouldn't get recognized right away by this student computer (always plan WAY ahead!), so there won't be a picture here (I'll add it from home). But trust me, everybody is really engaged and having a pretty good time :)
The web page we were working from is here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Busy days

It's been an awfully busy time the last few days, and no let-up in sight. Janeanne and I see each other at strange times, as she is in the thick of preparing Costanza for Tacoma Opera. It's a very exciting time for her.

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-house digital divide

So much is made of the digital divide between countries, social and economic classes. Today I witnessed another one, smaller scale, but just as real.

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

Quick learners

Back to the classroom. The kids are learning prerequisite tech skills, having a good time, and learning at the same time. Great at teaching and helping each other. The last two days during an LA block we hit stuff like basic browser operation, program minimizing/maximizing, printing to a non-default printer - and reinforcing the saving to and opening from their own directories. Not to mention playing audio files, getting comfortable with headphones, speaker operation, etc. A web assignment about owls ( and a look at some paintings of Rousseau during art made the tech learning happen pretty naturally, although content acquisition is slowed at this stage... Still doing writing daily on a computer (and paper/pencil of course). My eyes are on their first blog posting - trying to see if I can possibly tie it in to the new writing program.

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 ( 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

Making a deposit

Making a deposit
Making a deposit,
originally uploaded by mahlness.
Dave, at Bank of America on Friday afternoon, getting some of our $1,243 in coins ready for deposit. Result of our school coin drive sending $ to the Humane Society to help with the animals impacted by hurricane Katrina. More pictures at Flickr...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Addition to the classroom

Addition to the classroom
Addition to the classroom,
originally uploaded by mahlness.
Friday I brought in an item for "Show and Tell", but we ran out of time, so mine will have to wait until next week. This bentwood box was a very special gift - it has my twin orca design on two sides. I kinda like where it sits right now in my classroom - on top of an air intake vent, between a couple of big plants.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Classroom progress

The kids are behind where I usually expect them to be at this time of the year. Not their fault, just not as much time to spend on the basics this year. They are, though, doing very well navigating through the My Docs folder on the server to create and save work to their own directories. Haven't been able to touch on much more than writing. I think I'm going back to the "pull out" model for individual web assignments that I used for so many years. I had discarded it the last couple of years because the whole class could go on at once, with so many computers. But now, the problem is not having enough computers, it's finding the time to use them. Have tried charting a little with Excel - actually had them create a chart, copy and paste it into Word, and write a little (1-2 sentence) evaluation of the graph results. They did really well! Smart kids, lots of potential. Can't wait to do more. Have lots of ideas for an initial PowerPoint presentation (and to teach the program). Just have to find the time.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Chief Seattle audio

I finally got up the audio file of Wes Felty's interpretation of Chief Seattle's speech on the school web site. This is just part of a multimedia piece Wes did, but it was much too large for web distribution as video. Wish I know how to reduce video file sizes. Anyway, Wes' words and music are truly moving, and haunting. Just a small part of the CD he is sending out to anyone who asks.