Thursday, August 31, 2006
Nothing wrong with caring - but when others are in control of whether you get to share it, when promises are made, when hours are spent, when money and time comes out of your own pocket because you BELIEVE (and all the while you think that you have an incredible chance to make a difference, to influence thinking, to inspire people) in what you are doing, that you finally have a golden opportunity to really nail it... well, maybe you can see this coming...
I did not do my 12 minute tech presentation today. No time, sorry. The handouts went into a shockingly large pile of my presentations that have met the same fate. I was crushed.
Thank goodness the kids are coming next week, I've had enough of all the rest that goes with being a teacher.
I will get over this. My wife will kill me if I don't dump it quickly - it is Labor Day weekend, for goodness sake. By the time the kids walk through the door in 6 days, I will be ready to care again - and my caring will make a difference this time.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
1) hold up Tom Friedman’s “The World is Flat”, suggest it is required reading for any teacher
2) pass out copies (for people to read on their own, later) of two articles from the Autumn 2006 edition of “Interactive Educator”:
- Building Online Learning Communities, by Diane Curtis
- To Blog or Not to Blog? You Decide, by Wesley Fryer
3) show Did you know, by Karl Fisch. I have mentioned this before here, but Karl has since updated the presentation and added sources
Monday, August 28, 2006
The original artwork displayed below the tank is a gift from Wes Felty.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
A whitelist is a list of accepted items or persons in a set. This list is inclusionary, confirming that the item being analyzed is acceptable. It is the opposite of a blacklist which confirms that items are not acceptable.
For the last ten years or so of providing web access in schools in the US, school districts have relied on a blacklist, a list of identified inappropriate sites to which computers within a district were denied access. Districts commonly contracted with software vendors who constantly updated that list with inappropriate sites. Staff members in that district were asked to report inappropriate sites that they or their kids happened upon so that they could be added to the database.
An example of how a whitelist changes everything:
Say a district whitelists blogger.com (very common practice). All blogs that end in blogspot.com are then blocked from within the district, effectively blocking the .06% of inappropriate blogs from blogger (I made up this stat - just bear with me). This effectively shuts off access to 99.94% of the appropriate blogs on blogger. If anyone wants access to a blog on blogger they must request an "unblock", along with rationale for the unblock. One unblocked site still leaves 99.94% (the appropriate ones) blocked.
The onus is now on the teacher. There is no wide open door anymore. If you want to see what's out there, you have to go looking on your own time, from home, jump through hoops, and cross your fingers. Teachable moments? Forget it.
There are hundreds of companies out there with blacklists that school districts could plug into their filtering software. Why is blacklisting not used anymore? It costs more. It's more work. It's not perfect. Why are districts whitelisting? It's cheap. It's relatively easy. It's safe. No kids will ever see anything inappropriate.
Heck, kids won't see anything. This approach is so obviously unethical and plain out wrong, that I cannot believe nobody is saying anything about it. Maybe nobody realizes it is happening. I've been using the web as a part of my daily classroom instruction - with third graders - for the past twelve years, and I can say this is by far the most repressive and restrictive access to knowledge that I have ever seen. I guess what sticks in my craw the most is that those in charge of school Internet filters are giving teachers absolutely zero credit - or responsibility - for being able to watch, teach, and look out for the safety of their children on the Internet.
Worrying about DOPA at this point is ignoring the elephant in the living room.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
- Doug Noon, at an elementary school in Alaska, writes in The Community Writing Project about having an opportunity to get his staff on board, and maybe participating in something similar to his Tell the Raven student blog from last year. Interesting how the use of the term "blog" is shied away from - see the comments for an extension of a good conversation.
- Karl Fisch, from a high school in Colorado, shares in Did You Know? a powerful PowerPoint presentation he put together for his staff. He looked at making a difference with his staff in a totally different way. It's a serious, sit up and listen to this, big picture approach.
I'll be using Karl's presentation in my elementary school, with his permission. And I will also be having those sharing, this is how you do it, hands on kind of sessions that Doug talks about. Big picture, little picture - we have to remember put them both out there to really inspire our colleagues. Thanks to Doug and Karl for sharing.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
If it's a good thing, you pour yourself another cup of coffee, maybe print out the post, read it over and over, underline the extra good stuff, send it on to folks... until you realize you have gone way beyond the acceptable limits of pride, and then you stop... and glow, but very quietly, in a corner...
If you get mentioned in a not so good way, or a way that makes you cringe, think whatever was I thinking when I let that one fly, I wish I could crank that time machine back a few days... well, you lose sleep, plain and simple.
...at least that's if you're a classroom teacher who grew up in MN, ND, and SD in the 50's. Garrison Keillor really does tell the story of my life (he's 8 years older, though)
Here are two mentions of stuff I've written, both come my way in the past couple weeks. See if you can figure out which is the good and bad mention:
Re: Arbor Heights - a dozen years on the web! - Stephen Downes
Photo-Sharing Web Sites - in District Administration (yikes, they've changed the online version - I have to get my hands on a hard copy)
Monday, August 14, 2006
Today is an important anniversary. Twelve years ago today, August 14, 1994, the Arbor Heights Elementary School web site appeared on the Internet. Below are a dozen items to remember and celebrate:
1) Our first page looked like this: http://www.halcyon.com/arborhts/ahold1.html
2) Ours was the 9th elementary school with a web site. It is the only one of those schools still at the same URL: http://www.halcyon.com/arborhts/ - or these days, just head to www.arborheights.com
3) Take a virtual tour of the evolution of our home page at http://www.halcyon.com/arborhts/history.html
4) The Arbor Heights Elementary School web site was featured via screenshot in Bill Gates' "The Road Ahead".
5) The site hosts the complete archive of The Random Thoughts of Louis Schmier, a collection of the writings of one of the Internet's visionary educational philosophers for more than a decade: http://www.halcyon.com/arborhts/louis.html
6) The Arbor Heights web site originated, was the host for several years for, and is still the physical coordinating center for, the largest educational activity coordinated on the Internet, The Earth Day Groceries Project: http://www.earthdaybags.org/
Not resting on its laurels, the school is pushing out into the world of web2.0 with the last six:
7) a PTSA blog: http://ahptsa.blogspot.com/
8) six rss feeds on its home page at http://www.halcyon.com/arborhts/
9) a PTSA listserv: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ahptsa/
10) a school wiki, just starting out, at http://arborheights.wikispaces.com/
11) podcasts of and pdf versions of the Jr. Seahawk Newsletter, "The oldest continuously published elementary school student newspaper on the Internet" at http://www.halcyon.com/arborhts/jrseahaw.html and http://nlcommunities.com/communities/mahlness/
12) home of http://roomtwelve.com - a classroom of third graders helping to redefine 21st century literacy.
It's been an exciting dozen years. - Mark
Friday, August 11, 2006
- Planning for next year
- Student bloggers, finally!
- Bloggers' contract
- Re: blogger's contract
- Classroom bloggers doing well!
- Turkey escape stories
- Progress and struggles
- What's good about blogging, part 1
- Email flurry
- Flickr, finally
- End of the year tech thoughts
- Struggling just to stay even
- Nice comments
- Amazing student bloggers
- Small step
- Plans for the week
- Good news, bad news
- A good week
- Comment that got to me
- Third grade tech problem solvers
- Room 12 - in Texas!
- Flurry of loose ends
- Connecting with parents
- Local connections
- Family Internet Night
- Blogging and report cards
- Slowing down
- Many things
- One more blogging teacher
- Blocking Flickr - can't get past it
- Good reading, 4/02/06
- The Real Tragedy of MySpace
- Oh, the places you'll go...
- The WASL
- A day in the life
- 21st Century Coffeehouse
- Rugged days
- Brighter spots
- The Class of 2015
- Just another day
- Comments - Thanks to the teachers
- Blogging Frenzy
- Last Day's Eve
- Blogging through the school year, part 1
- Blogging through the school year, part 2
- Blogging through the school year, part 3
- Top 10 student blog posts
- The Case for Classblogmeister
- Hard to walk away
- The case against classblogmeister - a response
- Understanding the power of the blog
Thursday, August 10, 2006
It's midsummer here in the US, but for some of my last year's third graders and me, school is still in session. They are still writing. I'm no longer their teacher, but I am teaching them. I am still editing, offering them feedback and congratulations. They are also getting feedback from others all over the world. My kids from last year are still blogging. Seven of them, a third of my class, have posted articles on their own blogs.
We use Classblogmeister, a wonderful, free, safe tool for blogging. Every word that they write on their blogs is approved by me before it appears there. Every comment goes by me first as well. I am their safety net, their set of training wheels. But regardless of these safety precautions, we have also talked relentlessly about online safety and being a responsible Internet citizen. They have learned lessons that will keep them safe, give them a degree of understanding, and hopefully give them an edge towards success, that other 8 and 9 year olds do not have.
This is unprecidented, something I have not seen or experienced in 25 years of teaching. My kids still want to write - how wonderful is that?! The difference is that now they know they have a global audience, that their writing will not just be stuck up on the family refrigerator for a few days and then taken down or replaced with something else. We blogged this past school year, and I was constantly astounded at the effort that went into their writing. They were motivated to write like I have never seen before. And of course as their teacher I found I had this incredible tool to shape and hone their writing skills. The writing curriculum was rewritten. If you look at their blogs, look from the bottom up - from their first writing, in November of 2005, to August of 2006. I can make no stronger case for the power of the blog - as a teaching tool.
Also check out the summer writing of Jackson, Danielle, Ming, Isobel, Jacqueline, Camden, and Gus. I have a feeling there will be more before the summer is over...
It is so easy, in this edtech blogging echo chamber, to forget that most people still do not know what is going on here, that a few educators and a few more students have tasted from the web 2.0 cup, and cannot turn back. We have seen the power, we have seen the results in our classrooms. Once you've been around the block in a Porshe, you do not want to get back in the family beater.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
The server that I had referenced had not answered for about a week. So tonight I did some digging and read something on Alan's blog about "leaving Maricopa", eventually finding the original server. I'm still not sure how this all works - there were mirror sites at one point....
Anyway, there are now six rss feeds on this blog, again delivering pretty much up to the minute updates from Doug Noon, Graham Wegner, Clarence Fisher, Brian Crosby (all classroom teachers), roomtwelve.com, and the Writer's Almanac. Nothing like solving a problem to bring the funk to an end. There's a little icon over on the side bar. Thanks Alan!
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Food for thought, you can't help but read through his lists without mentally adding to them or making your own lists. It is important to dream, to keep all possibilities open. Thanks, Wesley.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
The latest cool way to make it easy for folks to email their senators about DOPA comes from Brian Grenier at Bump on the Blog. Place a piece of code on your blog or web site and you get this Flash applet: