Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I've had a MySpace page for a little over a year, I guess. I just wanted to see what it was like, to see the dangers, to try and understand the fear. So I have one. I've done basically nothing with it. I have a puny 3 friends. Well, they're not puny, it's just such a short list.
A couple of weeks ago my wife went on MySpace.
Here's her MySpace page.
Now you have to understand that my shock came in large part because of the reaction I had received over a year ago when I casually let it pass that I had set up a MySpace page. The earth shook. "You did what?!!" I had crossed a line of sanity. Several lines, it seemed.
That tune changed when a big-time publicist recently said my wife absolutely HAD to have, among other things, a MySpace page, like right now for an upcoming NYC recital. Things got different, fast. I am Mr. Tech Support in our household, so my work was ripping and uploading mp3 files, CD cover images, setting up an html coded profile, linking to a YouTube video, helping with passwords, etc. Once that was done, I sat back and watched, amazed.
My wife is now, just a couple of weeks later, part of a well-organized community on MySpace - mostly classical performing artists. (bonus points if you can find another edtech apostle amongst her friends) I had no idea this world was there. She has added current and former voice students (she teaches at PLU). Even more amazing. It is a very different world from blogging, but it has similarities. There is a "Twitter" sort of IM capacity, there are networks of "friends" constantly changing in size and shape. There are "bulletins". I'm only scratching the surface, because I know so little...
It is an amazing community. I find myself going from friend to friend - being intrigued over and over by the folk in her ever expanding friends list. It's surprising where you can end up in a couple of clicks. You can be on Renee Fleming's or Neil Young's site in a couple of heartbeats. Lots of junk for sure, but the networking opportunities are amazing.
So where are the teachers? Do we not need to network? Is subscribing to an rss feed for an edtech blog, one after another, manually, enough of a network? Or is there more?
MySpace is exploding. The edtech blogosphere is not even close to moving this quickly.
What is the lesson here, and can we learn anything from MySpace? Should we be there?
I am. Wanna be my friend?
Monday, August 27, 2007
In the meantime...
There was recently an amazing story reported by Doug Noon about an elementary school in Alaska that turned down state bonuses for staff members because their kids had made great academic gains. The story was reported here.
There were some interesting comments left on Doug's post, including one from Melissa, in Oregon, which cited an article where the sentiment, especially in the comments, was clearly of the mind that teachers have got it made.
Which brings me to something that has been bugging me no end - that those of us in the classroom are truly helpless in the public eye. I'm talking about people commenting anonymously on blogs and other online publications having free reign to take potshots. Consider this post and following comments. The public has a field day saying whatever... The one employee who engaged in the conversation and was not anonymous is no longer employed by the school district. Would I have liked to say something there? Of course - but at what price?
My school recently had a particularly nasty incident with our school's Wikipedia entry. Somebody altered the entry with several libelous, judgemental, unsubstantiated statements. After I fixed the damage (immediately), how did we deal with it? On our own, in-house. Would it have been nice - maybe even appropriate - to be backed up by our employer? Of course.
What is my point in this ramble, exactly? I guess it's that teachers at schools are really out there on our own in this medium. You gotta watch what you say. And you are at the mercy of a potential multitude of folks who are ready to say anything, with nothing to lose, anonymously.
To all the teachers like Mary, at that school that went through the very difficult discussion about the ethics of accepting money because of the achievement of their students, I say thank you. Thanks for the uncomfortable time you are spending in the public eye. You came up with a decision that had to be incredibly divisive - and now you are exposed to all kinds of criticism, from colleagues and the public. I hope you are able to move and have a great year with your kids.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
From "Choosing the right computer" -
The average student needs to browse the Web, write reports and communicate via e-mail. Less than $700 will buy a computer that can do all that, monitor and printer included. You’ll want to add software to protect against viruses and spyware ($30 and up, annually), a surge-protecting power strip ($10 or more) and perhaps speakers ($20 and up).
As your budget increases, so do your options for processing ease and storage capacity. After you’v e covered the computer essentials, extra RAM
(about $100 per GB) will make the computer work faster and more reliably. A larger hard drive (250 GB will cost about $50 extra) also is a worthwhile investment.
If you already have a computer or two at home, consider wireless networking. A simple router and software runs about $100, but the ability to share a single printer and Internet connection could ultimately save you money. So, too, could a home server, which will back up the files on all of your computers, so they’ll be safe if one should crash.
Then there was advice on buying a cell phone for the kids - with a nod to the fact that they are banned in many school districts. But this part had me nodding and shaking my head at the same time: "Computer must-haves" -
A computer can cost $600 or $6,000. Here are some features you don’t want to be without:
• At least 1 GB RAM. The more “random access memory” you have, the more programs your little mulit-taskers can run at once.
• At least a 120 GB hard drive. This “permanent memory” stores programs (like Word or Excel), games, photos and music.
• An external hard drive. Most operating systems let you automatically back up your files. If the computer crashes, the prom photos and the senior thesis will be safe.
• Security software. It’s essential to protect against viruses, phishing and other nasty cybertricks.
Made me wonder just how many TEACHERS have this type of equipment, either at home or on their desks at school. Hmmm.... At home I'm squeaking by, just keeping up with those specs, but in my classroom, the slowest computer is my district issued "teacher workstation", which doesn't even come close. If we teachers are expected to lead, well, this is just so obviously out of whack....
This also made me wonder (again) if the day is finally coming closer when those technology in schools naysayers will finally give up asking, "yes, but does it increase academic achievement?" Will they finally now begin to realize that it just doesn't matter - we live with technology, so we teach with it, too - duh. Just like the pencil, the light bulb, the TV, and on, and on...
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Things will look a little different when the desks are back :)
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Going backwards in the evening, the ceremonial first pitch was thrown by the Burger King guy, I think. Weird.
But my favorite moment of the evening was reviewing some of the pictures I had in my camera, and discovering that I had captured a modern day version of a famous painting, Night Baseball, by Marjorie Phillips. Joe DiMaggio is at the plate, Yankees vs. the Washington Senators, 1951:
I use Night Baseball every year in art, as a prompt that sets everybody off on a chalk pastel picture of a game involving a ball. It's great fun, and it was great to step away from a lot of much more serious things for a few hours last night.
Friday, August 10, 2007
Ever have something just awful happen, and you can't say something? Ever have your dreams dashed and you can't say anything? Ever have people you don't know contact you because you might be able to shed some light? Ever weigh every single word in a phone call? Ever use personal email, and home phone numbers exclusively? Ever been so angry you could just spit, and you can't even get up a wet mouth? Ever really want to trust somebody, but you can't let yourself?
Fear does that to you.
This where I am.
The departure of the two people responsible for the development of L3RN last week has shocked and rocked me. The wind of promise is out of my sails. My hopes are taking on water.
So I send cryptic emails, trying to find out more - and giving up a carefully measured very little of what I know. I lose sleep and second guess myself to ridiculous levels.
Fear. It is a powerful silencer.
Monday, August 06, 2007
- Post these rules before you give your facts
- List 8 random facts about yourself
- At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names, linking to them
- Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they’ve been tagged
- I love grape jelly, and make it myself, from grapes I grow.
- I was one of the first kids in my kindergarten class to learn how to tie his shoes.
- I've only read the first 3 Harry Potter books (for shame!)
- Heights scare me.
- I prefer hot over cold weather.
- My vision used to be 20-10
- I have this fantasy of getting my 1967 Vespa running again...
- Not once have I ever been to school or taught on my November birthday.
I think the grown-ups are having too much fun with this, so...I know the rules say you're only supposed to tag 8 people. But how can I possibly choose only 8 from my last year's class of third graders? So, here's a list of ALL of them, linked to their blogs. I'll cross post to the class blog first, then I gotta start leaving comments for them. Not all have written this summer, but let's see who responds:
Tags: AnaLisa, Bailey, Casey, Chelsea, Christopher, Delaney, Elyjah, Ethan, Jaylynn, Jonathan, Keean, Kyra, Kody, Lindsay, Logan, Maribeth, Nathan, Nicole, Riley1, Riley2, Ryan
Sunday, August 05, 2007
- Seattle Schools Embrace Moderated Read/Write Technologies - Wesley Fryer - Oklahoma
- Weblogg-ed » Will’s Links 06/30/2007 - Will Richardson - New Jersey
- L3rn - Tom Hoffman - Rhode Island
- Create + Learn + Broadcast = L3RN - Judy O'Connell - Australia
- Teachers learn how to use L3RN, new online network - Rachel Fields - Seattle Times
- Seattle Public Schools builds social-learning site for its tech-savvy teens- Jessica Blanchard - Seattle PI
- Seattle Likes to L3RN - Jim Anderson - Washington Teachers
- Seattle Public Schools builds social-learning site for its tech-savvy teens - Lynn Marentette - North Carolina
- iLibrarian » Create + Learn + Broadcast = L3RN - Ellyssa Kroski - Columbia University
- L3RN: Seattle Public Schools Brings Social Networking In House - T.H.E. Journal: August 2007
- Teachers and students "L3RN" something new - Allison Matsumoto - Partnership for Learning
This is only a partial list for something that is still not officially released. Teachers (like me) are trying it out in the summer, planning its use in their classrooms next school year. I have lots of questions, but it is extremely exciting to see my district going forward - and indeed, leading, in the use of technology use/integration for our kids in this 21st century!
I know there are many more mentions and reviews. If you have more citations, please leave them as comments here. Thanks!
Technorati Tags: l3rn
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Update, 8/4: for a well written perspective on this, read Andy Carvin's The Return of the Original Edublogger on learning.now
One might think I had just figured out how I was going to use Twitter in my classroom, or that Flickr was going to be unblocked, or that my classroom was going to have a wireless connection next year. No, I'm not excited about technology in education (well it IS related... read on).
What I'm excited about is teaching. About caring. About reaching and touching each and every student. I'm excited that so many more people can now be hearing that good message. If that sounds mushy-gushy, oh well. So what.
Louis Schmier is blogging.
Yes, you read that right. Louis Schmier, professor of history at Valdosta State University. The author of hundreds of "Random Thoughts", distributed on the Internet via email lists since 1993. The man who was blogging before the term "web" in web-log even existed (well, barely).
Louis Schmier's Random Thoughts are now blog posts - all of them.
Subscribe in your favorite rss reader. Add del.icio.us links to the posts that mean something to you, or that you want to return to later. It is such a kick to be able to link to his classic To Be A Teacher, as a blog post from 1994 - yes! Use the search feature to see how often he wrote about "blueberries", for instance. And now, in his latest Random Thoughts, you can leave comments for Louis - and everybody else. Huge thanks go to James Farmer for letting this happen, and for lighting the way in the conversion of hundreds of web pages to blog posts. This was an enormous undertaking, long overdue. I've been the html guy for way too long. Now it is all in Louis' hands, where it should be.
So, without further ado, I present to you an enormous body of incredible work, 600+ Random Thoughts (in a blog) about teaching, caring, and being a real human being:
The Random Thoughts of Louis Schmier
Technorati Tags: schmier teaching