Monday, September 27, 2010

Repairing a Bricked XO

I now have 11 XO laptops in my third grade classroom. The latest arrived DOA, or "bricked", as in the RTC bug (real time clock failure). I mentioned this earlier in Remarkable Generosity

So tonight I took apart an XO, hooked up a custom cable from the motherboard of one, to the USB port of another. Once connected, I ran a program on one XO that would supposedly fix the other. This just sounds like hocus pocus, I know.

But it worked. Lazarus came back from the dead. I am still shaking my head in amazement and gratitude:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Remarkable Generosity

Remarkable Generosity
Originally uploaded by mahlness
On the right is an XO laptop donated to my third grade classroom from a teacher in L.A. This generous person sent me two. One is in my classroom now and runs great. The one on the right is "bricked", XO jargon for a laptop that will not boot because the RTC (real time clock) went bad - and a bug in the original firmware will not allow it to boot if the RTC is not there...

On the left is an XO from New York, by way of Michigan. This little guy works great. What's even more amazing, is that it came with several things: a USB cable, an 8-GB SD card with ExtraOrdinary 2010 loaded on it, a one of a kind cable to connect the motherboards of both these XO's, detailed instructions on how to hook the good one up to the bricked one, special software loaded to upgrade the firmware on the bricked one once I connect the motherboards, and detailed directions for exactly how to accomplish this delicate task. I feel as though I'm about to do brain surgery. Oh, it also came with a postage paid return envelope for the special cable.

I'm just blown away by this generosity. I've never met nor spoken with the folks who put this stuff in my hands. They trust that I will put them in the hands of kids and use them to enrich their lives.

This comes at a time when it feels really, really GOOD to say that.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Thank goodness for the kids

Thank goodness for the kids - who come tomorrowTomorrow it starts all over again. My new class of third graders will enter a new classroom, bringing with them what keeps me coming back as a teacher. They bring enthusiasm, confidence (some more than others), wide eyed wonder, curiosity, creativity, and a wealth of values from a variety of backgrounds. I love being a teacher, and I can't wait for it to really start.

It was a rough summer to be a teacher. Mostly, I can blame Diane Ravitch for this. I blame her for writing a book that put education reform on its ear. That book changed the way I looked at education reform - forever. So thanks a lot, Diane (big, fat genuinely thankful grin)!

One thing led to another over the summer, and I found myself following people like Ken Bernstein on Daily Kos, The Answer Sheet, from the Washington Post, Teachers' Letters to Obama on Facebook, and a host of others as I tried to follow people not interested in trashing me just because I was a teacher.

The more I read from those learned sources (and clearly not ed secretary Duncan), the more furious, outraged, and ultimately, despondent I became. Lies and untruths were flowing from sources I thought I would follow forever: a liberal Democratic administration headed by Obama, and someone who was a supposed champion for technology in education, Bill Gates.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

I also followed ed-reformers like Tom Vanderark (know thine enemy). I sat around tables in Seattle with him, heads from Microsoft, IBM, Dell, Seattle Schools, and then superintendent John Stanford, as they drew up plans for the Seattle ed/tech plan. I was a teacher. I had differences with Stanford, but to his credit, he surrounded himself with admins and CLASSROOM TEACHERS (there was one other besides me). I spoke at that table of powerful folks as an equal. Stanford heard me. They all did, they all listened, questioned, and engaged. We had conversations.

That scenario is a distant memory from a bygone age - when teachers were not the cause of the problems in education, they were the answer. Now ed leaders are not looking for a conversation as much as the holy grail. This year the answer is bad teachers.  The conversation is over.

I need to stop with the rant. In 12 hours or so, 28 fresh new faces will walk into my classroom, and I will know once again why I do what I do. Thank goodness.