Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Connecting with parents

I'm planning a family education night in my classroom. Hopefully, in the next couple of weeks. This is all about Internet safety, as I'm worried that safety at home may not always be as tight as it is in the classroom. I also want to show the parents firsthand how classblogmeister works - how I get notification of every change to their blogs, how every word must be approved by me, etc. And last, I want to show how truly revolutionary and exciting this all is - the potential, the future, etc. Families all together. I don't think it'll be hard to come up with material - the hard part will be keeping it to an hour, which is all I can reasonably expect busy families to give during the school week.

This education has to happen at many levels - for instance need to tell and show them that MySpace.com is indeed blocked on our school computers. We do not have open access to it, as Nicole Brodeur recently wrote in her Seattle Times column. That kind of misinformation really needs to be corrected. I'm sure we'll have a discussion about myspace. We need to.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Wireless access everywhere?

Sitting here in the Hartford airport, waiting to get on the first leg plane of my trip back to Seattle. Decide to plug in my laptop and try a "what the hey?" look for a wireless network. Obviously, there is one - very speedy - and free. Why are there no signs around letting folks know it's here? Is it just assumed everybody knows? Or are they truly everywhere these days? I tried the same thing a couple days ago at the Helen Keller Center on Long Island and also found an open network. For those who travel constantly, this is no big deal, I guess. But for those occasional travelers like me, it sure is an exciting development. I've been suffering away (whine, whine) on dial up to AOL access from my parents' home the last few days. It's nice to be back to what I'm used to.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Flurry of loose ends

Have spent the last two days frantically getting things in order for my trip back to CT. Finishing up things for school, sending emails, getting sponsorship for the Earth Day Groceries Project, getting AOL on my laptop (ish!), taking care of household obligations. Mid winter break is here, and normally this would be a week of catch up - so I'm doing it on the weekend.

Will be great to see Mom and Dad, sister Kristin, and brother Dave. Main reason for the trip is to accompany Dave on a visit to the Helen Keller National Center on Long Island. Hopefully we can get him in there for an evaluation/training stay soon. And then the folks are getting ready to move out of their house to assisted living in a month or so. Another big chapter...

Leaving in a few hours, most things in order. Books! About the only time I ever really get to read anything these days is on a plane. Will finish The World is Flat - finally, but I need some trashy spy thriller. Will save that selection for the airport gift shops, I guess...

Will be interested to see if any of my kids are blogging this week on roomtwelve.com

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Updates to blog

No big news here, but I did add an rss feed to Wesley Fryer's blog on this page - so he's there along with feeds to the blogs of Andy Carvin, Tim Lauer, Will Richardson, and David Warlick. Wesley has been very supportive lately, and I really appreciate his voice, perspective, and passion. Man, can he crank out blogwrite! Tidied up the right side of this blog as well. Looks matter so much :)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Now it REALLY starts...

I've been worrying about this for some time. The Earth Day Groceries Project is now swinging into gear - this year marking it's 13th year on the Internet. Dozens of extra hours for me each spring. Lots of hard work, but much joy as well. With all the blogging - personal and classroom - already asking for much more time from me, I'm worried at this point about even a little bit more added on. But alas, alack, there is no choice, so here we go...

The first thing I did for the project, outside of updating dates on all the web pages I could quickly find, was to set up a blog - of course! Last year I started a discussion list for the project on Yahoo! Groups, but it basically went nowhere. I'm hoping this blog will be useful for many. I know it will be MUCH easier to update the latest info. And I'm also hoping it will reduce some of the email I get every year - which is basically the single biggest time sucker of them all. Got all the rss feeds set up, posted a couple of articles, got it linked from the project home page, etc.


One near disaster. Decided to use the blogger.com front end and host it on the project server. I managed to overwrite the project home page with the first test post! Aaargh. Now, I did have a backup - but it was a couple of years old, so it required a fair bit of html reconstruction to get the home page back to where (I think) it was. One little extra "/" in my blog publishing settings - yikes! A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Eventually, I think I'll add an rss feed from the blog to the project home page, to give it a much more dynamic look. I do have a good feeling about all of this, in spite of the worries. And I'm quite sure I'll have a couple more web 2.0 influences on the project web site before the spring is over.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Room 12 - in Texas!

I just posted this to my classroom blog at roomtwelve.com:

Room 12 - in Texas!

Yesterday at the TCEA 2006 technology conference in Austin, Texas, Wesley Fryer gave a presentation about blogging and podcasting - and he mentioned us! For about five minutes he talked about our blog, who were are, and he spent some time actually reading an article posted by Danielle! We listened to it in class today. It was so exciting! If you'd like to listen to his presentation, you can tune into his podcast here. The section where he talks about Room 12 is about 20 minutes into his presentation.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Third grade tech problem solvers

Today I had a serious problem with network connectivity in my classroom - I think the network folk were working on stuff. We couldn't get to our local network consistently (e.g, no printing or saving). I watched one of my third graders solve a problem in a way that just made me shake my head in wonder.

She was typing in Word - wanted to print, but could not - and could not save to her network folder. But she had Internet access. There was only one computer in the room that had access to our printer at that time. She turned to me and said, "Couldn't I just copy and paste this to my blog - like not ask for it to be published or anything? Just save it there.... and then I could go to that other computer that can print, log on to my blog, open that saved article, copy and paste my writing from my blog article into Word - and then print? Like, would that work?"

Like, my goodness. What comes so naturally to our nine year olds these days. Of course it worked. She was pleased - got her important writing printed out. Interesting to note that she didn't even consider using a floppy disk (ancient history, there - even though we have a Mavica that uses floppies).

Understanding how systems work. Not exactly the lesson plan goal (heck, this was during recess anyway) - but when I think how far that understanding will carry her and her classmates in the future, that's when I know I'm on the right track with my kids.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Will Richardson bows out

Tonight I read on Will Richardson's blog that he has decided to hang it up as an educator. I have really enjoyed reading his posts, especially because he is (until May 15) teaching in a school. Something about the credibility of a person who actually does what I do. Doesn't just write about what they THINK it's like. They know it like I do.

I wish him well, but gosh, I will miss his authentic voice. Being out of the classroom - even for a month these days - puts a person in the position of not fully understanding what is going on in the classroom today. Especially in technology. It is changing that fast. Good luck, Will.

On the bottom-right of this page there are rss feeds to the blogs of Will, Andy Carvin, Tim Lauer, and David Warlick.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Comment that got to me

Last week was very successful, with Inspiration and our first podcasting experience. But one thing happened at the very end of the last day that I almost forgot about - and yet it means more to me than all the other stuff.

One of my kids got a comment on his blog from another student at our school - during school hours. May not seem like much to many out there, but this one got to me. It happened just as the kids were about to go home for the weekend. They all know and like this kid - another third grader. I have no idea how he got the word - or how he figured out how to send a comment.

As I sat down at my desk with the usual exhaustion of the end of the week throbbing slowly through my body, I had a big smile on my face, I know I did.

Friday, February 03, 2006

A good week

Last weekend I set out two tech goals for the classroom this week. Done.

Made good progress on Inspiration. The kids got it very quickly - and are not pushing real hard right now to find out about all the bells and whistles - they're too busy laying out the chapter map of their "how to" book. And frankly, they'd rather be blogging!

The big news was actually getting a couple of podcasts going on student blogs! Using a mike that I've had around for years, Audacity, and a freebee ftp program, we produced two Seahawks cheers. Everybody in Seattle is just a little bit worked up about the Super Bowl this Sunday, so this one just fell in our laps, in terms of what would be the first podcast from Room 12. Now that the technical hurdles have been identified and answers found, I'm really looking forward to the possibilities that will open up with podcasting.

The kids continue to amaze me. On Wednesday afternoon, I gave most of the class an idea and half an hour on their blogs. Nine students published reasonable articles (all about the Super Bowl). A couple more have articles they need to spiff up a bit before they get published.