Saturday, December 31, 2005

End of the year tech thoughts

As I think back trying to sum up the year in technology - within my classroom, at least - the developments at the start of this school year this fall just plain eclipse whatever memories I have of have of the last half of the previous school year. Student bloggers, for goodness sake!

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

Flickr, finally

I finally decided to go with Flickr - pro - and pay $25/year. I'd been playing around with it, deciding how I might use it, learning the ins and outs, seeing how much I could get for free, etc. What really changed my mind was needing to have more than the three "set" maximum you get with the free account. Some of the sets I hope to create are collections of the kids' artwork - for display on their blogs at - there are kids right now who I'm pretty sure could get the html coding thing down well enough to add pics to their blogs. And then, of course, it will be a nice place to leave pics for anybody - particularly family. Like I just set up 18 from our trip to Iron Springs. I just ordered a few prints from Flickr, will see how that one goes.... I can see having them sent to Mom and Dad. And the url isn't too bad:

Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas Greetings

We finally finished, on the day after Christmas, our letter for the year. We'll get it in the mail on the 27th. It's also here, if you'd like to take a look. Merry Christmas! - Mark

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Snowy Owl at Ocean Shores

Snowy Owl at Ocean Shores
Snowy Owl at Ocean Shores,
originally uploaded by mahlness.
One of the five snowy owls we saw today, 12-22-05, at Damon Point in Ocean Shores, WA. It was worth the rain, cold, and wind to see these beautiful birds - and to be so close! We had seen six a couple of days earlier, but had forgotten the camera...

Monday, December 19, 2005

Off to the ocean!

Today Janeanne and I head off for three days of isolation and regeneration - on the Washington coast, at Iron Springs. No phone, no TV - just the sound of the surf below, an incredible view west, and a fireplace to stare into and ponder things on the shortest day of the year.

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

Men's Cookie Exchange

Men's Cookie Exchange
Men's Cookie Exchange,
originally uploaded by mahlness.
A small but determined group carried on the tradition of the Men's Cookie Exchange this year at Arbor Heights Elementary. More at

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Tictech, the list I moderate in Seattle, carried a couple of negative responses to a message I posted about blogging Very upsetting to me, as I would love to see more folks involved in discussions locally. So, after some (probably too much) thought, I posted this message to the list:

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

Mark Ahlness

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Email flurry

Very little time to post here lately, mostly because all my writing energy has gone to discussion lists. I have definitely had thoughts to express:

Plus a few forwards of some of these to other lists, minor comments, etc

Sunday, December 04, 2005

What's good about blogging, part 1

Yesterday I posted a note to wwwedu and classblogmeister in reaction to a lengthy messsage listing and detailing all the dangers of students blogging. I'm sure many will read my response and think, "touchy, isn't he?" I suppose I am. There are many things I take for granted that I probably should have noted. Before I start with my list of what's good about blogging, here are some things that most folks don't know...

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.