Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Image Sources

Top 10 Sites for Images & Clip Art
Pics4Learning - A very popular site to find free safe to use images for teachers and students.
Cyclo.ps - A search engine that searches the most popular free image engines around and provides a nice one stop shopping of sorts.
School Clip Art - A great site for free school clip art.
Ookaboo - A nice creative commons (free) site for finding great images for class work.
Picsearch - Excellent image search engine if used w/ a district's filtering solution.
Veezzle - A wonderful free stock photo search engine.
Google Swirl - An innovative way to search for images and see their relationships w/ each other (use w/ Google Safe Search enabled).
Free Photo Bank - An easy way to find creative common images.
Open Clip Art - A great way to find free clip art to use.
Find Icons - A nice site for free icons.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Voice Lesson 4 Music - Beethoven's 5th

Same exercise as the Strings...

Voice Lesson 2 - Self Portrait - Marc Chagall

What is Chagall saying about himself in these portraits? After all, he chose the stokes, the colors, the expression...How might he complete these statements for either or both portraits:

I am...

I feel...

Base your statements on the picture, not your feelings. If you think you have an idea what Chagall is saying about himself, what is your evidence that supports your idea?

Voice Lesson 1- Self Portrait: Van Gogh

What is Vincent saying about himself in these portraits? After all, he chose the stokes, the colors, the expression...How might he complete these statements for either or both portraits:

I am...

I feel...

Base your statements on the picture, not your feelings. If you think you have an idea what Van Gogh is saying about himself, what is your evidence that supports your idea?

Voice Lessons 5 - Mr. Jones Musical Self-Portrait

If I had to pick a song that really speaks to me as to who I am and what I hope to be, this is it!

Voice Lesson 3- Adagio for Strings, Op. 11

Listen to the music. What kind of voice does this music have. What if this music was a type of self-portrait? How might you complete these statements that capture the voice of this self-portrait?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Pro & Con

It seems that today our leaders could not agree on a law that celebrates Motherhood, Childhood, or the glorious Americanism of Fireworks on the 4th of July and the deliciousness of apple pie! But that has happened before and since the truth is that most Americans are good and reasonable folk when not pressured by the fear that tough times bring, this too will pass. (Remember: Desperate Times call for Desperate Measures). The problem is that for MOST Americans times are not desperate AT ALL! Yeah, OK, things are not going the way we want and the world has got a boat-load of problems, but in the grand scheme of things we are FAR better off than most.
I found this site that might be helpful to gain some perspective. If we could just calm down and analyze issues reasonably, and KNOW in our hearts that there are reasonable perspectives on BOTH sides of an issue, we might, just might, gain some measure of understanding AND sophistication.

This last aspect is what I want for my students: Sophistication: go ahead look it up!
(Pay particular attention to the antonyms)
Anyway, as usual, I digress...take a look at ProCon.org It gives a fairly objective perspective from folks in the "fight" on various issues. All you need is an e-mail address to register.  Be sure to include Spring Forest as your organization.
To me a sophisticated person does not jump to one polarized view or another without giving the matter some serious thought. It is completely OK, in fact a duty of citizenship, I believe, to take time to consider views that you don't initially agree with and not be opposed to the idea that you could be wrong in your initial judgment(s).
Take a look at the definition and consider it. Take a look at the Pro/Con site - pick an issue that you are interested in - particularly one that you have your mind "made-up" on - and consider the other side without passion, but with intellect. It is a tough exercise, but worth it.  Enjoy!

P.S. Parents - this is a great exercise to engage your children in thoughtful discussion!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Images, Perspective and Responsibility

I saw an exhibition of artist Chris Jordan in Austin this summer.  His work is interesting to say the least.  He takes very small images and turns them into very LARGE canvases.  You find yourself reading about the work, standing back from a distance and then zooming yourself in close to the canvas. The cool thing here is that by clicking on the images selected, the page does the zooming.

The main reason I thought of this for this post is because I am trying to introduce a new way for the students to approach writing - Image Grammar.  You try to develop an artist's palette and then apply the "colors" of the palette with a number of "Brush Strokes". The idea is that by approaching a written composition like a work of art, made up of different elements and with varying techniques, it becomes a thing of great beauty and enjoyment.

Another reason is that these images challenge our perspectives.  Tomorrow we will learn about "Zooming In" on our writing to alter the perspective of our readers. Lastly the artists descriptions provide food for thought.  Go here to access the site.  Enjoy them, pick one to write about and tell us what it makes you think about, in detail!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lamb to Slaughter?

The short story Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl tells the tale of love and betrayal and vengeance and retribution with an interesting evidentairy twist or wrinkle. Why do you think the author chose this title? Have you ever heard someone say something is like a "lamb to the slaughter"? Ask your family or friends for their explanation of what it means to them. Then Google it - I did - lamb to slaughter saying - and got this.

Read the explanations you find and look at the history of the saying. Now think again, using evidence from the short story, what are the enduring messages, the controlling ideas, the themes? Then try to come up with an answer to the original question: Why do you think the author chose this title?

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Please post a comment to the class blog! The Question of the Hour?

If you could change one thing about Spring Forest Middle School, what would it be and why? Please explain your answer in detail.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thing # 23

What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?

I enjoyed all the exercises, although many of the Things involved applications, tools, or platforms of which I was already familiar. I think that aspect made the exploration that much more enjoyable. The mystery and unease were removed and I always found some new twist of functionality that I had either never seen or missed. Having said that, my favorites were the on-line image generators (Thing 10) and the Web 2.0 Awards (Thing 19). However, my favorite was finding other “Things” as off shoots from the tool you began with. This resulted in hours of enjoyment.
How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?
Participation in the program has reinforced the idea that there is always something new to learn - always some interesting way to engage or re-engage students. For the most part, it has been an experiential application of some of my life/parent/teacher mantras – “Be the Change you wish to see in the world” and “Talk is Cheap!”

Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?

I suppose I always KNEW this, but it was a pleasant surprise to re-learn how clarifying and even therapeutic creativity and writing can be.

What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?

I would like to see some activities/assignments that required participants to demonstrate more than basic competence in programs such as Excel and Photoshop. (I have dark, blind spots with these) The assignments should be difficult enough to require some serious time with Atomic Learning in order to complete them. I would also like to see a staff development opportunity that requires the completion of an entire PBL unit – Essential Questions, Unit Questions, Presentation Products, Student Samples (what a teacher would like to see their students produce), scaffolds, instructions…everything needed to pull it off. I think having the opportunity to collaborate on a project or even products in a work-flow environment would be especially beneficial.

If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you choose to participate?

Definitely, unequivocally YES. Further, I would like to see the district require a Things course for all instructional staff – (particularly administrators, CIS, Coordinators, even the Superintendent and Board members (Good Luck with that!). I do not think this is unreasonable given all the instruction benefit that would flow from it. I think having administrators participate would create community AND give great insight to the challenges of incorporating effective use of technology in the classroom. The bean counter Big Wigs would benefit in experiencing the Bang for the Mega & Scarce Bucks they have to raise, justify and allocate.

How would you describe your learning experience in ONE WORD or in ONE SENTENCE, so we could use your words to promote 23 Things learning activities?

23 Things: Relevant, Worthwhile, Inspiring, and Renewing Professional Development.
(Yeah right, like I can say only 1 word – that’s like 1 Pringle!)

Now go and comment on some of the other Players' blogs?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Thing # 21

I spent my summer in staff development.  I was guided by my reading of A Whole New Mind - Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel Pink. As a Language Arts teacher, it was such music to my soul. Naturally, my little PhotoStory attempts to reflect that feeling.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Thing # 12 Part 3, b

StreetFilms –This is a blog that advocates cycling as transportation, not merely recreation. They do a fine job of making high quality videos on a variety of topics relating to cycling in an urban environment. I have followed them for a year of so and eagerly await each new film. I have posted a few of their products on the blog. Their films are very serious and balanced, not mere polemic rants or they are very funny….My Veronica Moss video post is an example.

Thing # 12 Part 2

Thing # 12 Part 2
I made comments to these blogs:
1. BGiles Blogging for Credit, Thing # 22
2. Carrie’s 23 Things, Thing # 6
3. Firefly Flight, Thing # 9
4. Brightwell’s 23 Things Adventure, Thing # 19
5. Becoming Mary Poppins, Thing # 17

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Thing # 12 Part 3 a

EcoVelo-This started out as The Recumbent Blog and was transformed into a blog devoted to commuting by bike. The host is Alan Barnard and posts gorgeous images of not only of bikes but of the view of life from a bike. His images reflect both the true artistry of cycling and his passion for it. As in most of life’s pursuits, there are numerous, competing and sometimes nasty factions. Cycling is no different. We have the racers, the off-roaders, the tandem clan, commuters, the car-less, the car-lite, the recumbent riders and numerous variations, hybrids and on and on. Ecovelo is a great place to learn about a broad array of cycling related issues in a civilized environment. Alan makes a point of regular, topical and interesting posts and thoughtful comments even to those that aren’t very thoughtful or reasonable. He represents the type of blogger I would like to be.

Thing # 12 Part 1

If it is true that writers love to be read, then consider commenter’s writers that need love too. If I ever thought I had something important to say, and I do occasionally so think, there is no greater joy than to have comments. This is the reason that Facebook is so popular – it’s the Feedback, man! If you see this and know it’s true, then you have to make time to respond to your commentary and remind yourself to treat others like you want to be treated. So much of the commentary I read is negative and I have been negative as well – He/She started it is what I tell my self…blah, blah, blah….gotta put that on the shelf for good!

Thing # 22

I was introduced to Ning a few years ago with the We Are Teachers initiative. Upon joining each member created their own page within the WAT network. The benefits of this platform over multiple Blogger blogs is that all pages within a single Ning “network”, while they can be individual in terms of design and layout are within ONE site. The problem with Ning is that as of July 20th, it is no longer free. I created one anyway and will gladly pay the $20 per year for a 150 member limited Ning. After I made that decision, I discovered that educators can get this same mini-Ning paid for by the fine folks at Pearson Publishing. I would have my students create their own pages and assign the creation and posting of products along the 23 Things model. Although multiple blogs or wikis can be easily linked, something in my Overworked-by-October-Teacher psyche tells me that having a very cool, adaptable and Central storage site will be a very good thing.
Although, I set it up to be private, please feel free to ask for an invite to Whole Brainers!

Think # 20

Sometimes I get excited when I see an interesting-looking post in my reader. I go to it and begin reading only to either not find the anticipated interest or to lose it quickly. This happens quite often and I LIKE to read blog posts. Students have a hard (er) time sticking with a long string of text. However their patience seems a bit stronger when video is involved. There is something in our wiring that naturally draws us to video, at least for the television generations. (I do recall hearing my grandmother say they enjoyed the moving picture show my folks had taken her to see). I came across Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath in which they discuss the way certain messages “stick” and certain ones do not. It is a book directed primarily at the business world, though there are numerous “lessons” from the classroom. Video has the capability to tap into the Unexpected path to message stickiness. Though video today is likely considered among students the epitome of the commonplace, I can’t see students engaged with a student blog without a substantial video component. For this Thing, I posted a video on Project Based Learning, though a look through my posts reveals numerous videos on subjects of interest to me outside of the 23 Things exercise. I am certainly very pleased that Spring Branch ISD has not blocked YouTube as the process of finding the clip you want is effortless. Teacher Tube has come a long way since its inception and I plan to delve into it to see just how far it has come. The embedding process with either of these services just couldn’t be any easier. If a picture is still worth a thousand words, a video should be worth that ten fold.

Thing # 19

Flock – I looked, I Saw, I downloaded….Flock is a really cool, albeit still a little incompletely mysterious, application…Incomplete because I have just begun to use it and don’t quite yet get how I can get it to contain my Google reader….but I digress….it bundles your stuff and puts it in an easily accessible side bar so I can see well, all my stuff…except my feeds from Google reader…but I’ll crack that nut if it’s the last thing I DO! This is useful as an attempt to put all your cool stuff in one place, more of a personal secretary and organizer rather than a teaching tool
Tu Diabetes – a social networking site for diabetics – a category of folk to which I sadly belong. I see no application to school other than a resource for personal health maintenance, education and support.
Stumble Upon – A tool which puts you in touch with things according to broad category and lets you vote up or down the sight you have Stumbled Upon….I looks like it works like the iTunes Genius bar in that your votes direct the selections chosen for future stumbling. The main application for schools is to facilitate the broadening of horizons as individuals, subject specialists, colleagues and mentors. It seems to fall into the category of Play that Daniel Pink suggests as an essential aptitude for the rise of The Conceptual Age…
One Sentence – no better words than from the horse’s mouth:
One Sentence is an experiment in brevity. Most of the best stories that we tell from our lives have one really, really good part that make the rest of the boring story worth it.
This is about that one line.
This is about telling the most interesting or poignant story possible in the fewest number of words.
This is about small bite-sized pieces of extraordinary lives and ordinary lives alike... the happy, the sad, the funny, the depressing.

A part of learning to write it learning to use one’s voice in the written form. A big part of that is learning to be precise and concise….I love the “other practices in conciseness” I placed it securely in my Diigo Teach_Writing list + on the home page there are links to several challenge writing sites, many of which found their way to the same list… These are for your viewing (You are out there, aren’t you?)….Some work, some don’t…

Project Based Learning & Thing # 20

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thing # 18

Open Office: Although I should have known about this – had I kept my ListServ subscription to TCEA’s Open Source group – I re-discovered it this last semester. I had students working on a Holocaust project on a bank of Dell mini-laptops. Most were using Word and PowerPoint for their submissions. Suddenly, their creations would not open! I noticed the weird extensions on their files….they had been created in OpenOffice and were trying to open them with MS programs. I was shown how to make the conversions, but when I tried to duplicate it yesterday, I couldn’t get it done with Word. I did notice PowerPoint immediately converts. I endeavor to preserve! The reason this was a concern for me is that these mini-laptops were erroneously imaged with BOTH OpenOffice and MS. This creates an unnecessary level of complexity. Once the error is corrected and MS is removed, the conversion issue will disappear. There are some differences in functionality, between OpenOffice and the more familiar MS,, but they are about as significant as the differences between XP 2003, 2007 and Vista – not insurmountable or unlearnable (just because it ain’t a word, don’t mean it hadn’t oughta be!). I look forward to learning those differences. One of the reasons that make this a perfect tool for students is that I have come across many that have a home machine for e-mail, IM, and Internet games, but do not the MS suite. This solves that! I don’t see a disadvantage unless you own stock in MS.
Google Docs have been around for some time and I have used them in a number of capacities – mainly for sharing committee work and sharing notes with colleagues from conferences. Using them with students is the next step and I can see many uses from class responses to current event prompts, to book club discussion extensions to peer editing. The only disadvantage involves web access.

Thing # 17

Rollyo! This tool relates to the Library 2.0 post in that the Teacher gets to provide a nice scaffold that does double duty as a filter – an optional filter. I! ran into a little difficulty at first in creating the search roll. Thanks to B. Goodner’s video, it came into focus….AFTER I spent a ton of time figuring it out! (Lesson Learned: Always read the entire assignment first!) One thing that I did a little different was to put the Rollyo search bar on my blog as a Gadget. This way, students can access it in the same place I ‘ll put everything else – assignments, prompts, the calendar. One thing that I noticed with this approach is that you have to obtain the updated code each time you add a Searchroll and then edit the gadget. It doesn’t take that long, but is an additional step. One thing that I did experiment with was using my Diigo lists to cut the time of copying and pasting each web resource you want in the new Searchroll. If you just want a list on the blog, Diigo will automatically create a post that includes any comments you have added to the bookmark. I did this and didn’t like the way it looked. I then had Diigo create a report that I copied and then edited out all the extraneous comments leaving only the URL for the Searchroll. This is a great tool that will really help students with research and teach resource evaluation and categorization. I see no reason why this should be a only seen as a teacher tool. I see my students’ blogs each having their individual Searchrolls.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bike Commute Paradise

Veronica Moss tells it like it's NOT!

Thing # 16

I have used wikis for a variety of things – Cub Scouts, Committees, Church groups…Always the impetus for using them has been to avoid the long and never ending and recycling of e-mail chains. Not only are these e-chains irritating at best, they are extremely inefficient when collaboration is the goal. However, even though the purported truth is that if you can use a word processing program you (should be able) can use a wiki, there are invariably those that just can’t get it! Through this Library2Play exercise I have been wondering what to use for my class. Initially, I wanted to use a wiki – I like PBWorks the best – because I wanted the ability to have students see ALL the additions AND to allow the ability to create their own pages. As I have posted a number of different types of “Things” now to my Blogger blog without a hitch, I am thinking that will be the platform of choice. I think the added bonus will be the access to Google Apps for the students. I certainly have no objection to students creating their own and inviting me to join. The best way to realize this will be for teacher groups – grade levels, etc. to use these as way to not only transmit information, but to have pre-discussion discussions – might save some precious face time.

Thing # 15

The notion of Library 1.0 from A Temporary Place in Time sticks with me. I recall when I began this exercise I was asked to read an article and create a post on its substance. I got my tablet and began taking notes….if occurred to me that I was firmly in the 20th century (if not the 19th!) with this approach. Over these past few weeks I have moved into a different way to approach information – the world library. The tools I have learned (been merely exposed to is more accurate) have helped to see (again) that the problem is not accessing information, but of organizing it – categories, tags, clouds…Oh My!
I see myself in these exercises literally struggling to tread the InfoToolsPages water to keep from drowning. I dutifully bookmark and tag and annotate and categorize and try to make the time to review and make some mental impressions as to how I could use the cool stuff I’ve found….whew! I am taken back to a time in real 1.0 in which I went to the library to search for titles on the Russian Revolution and soon discovered that God could not make a desk big enough to facilitate any efficiency in accessing the information contained within those volumes. Slightly further along the time line I am back when I used to enter a search query into Lexis or WestLaw (legal research databases)to print out a long list of potentially applicable cases to find the desired support and then having to head to the shelves for the requisite “Read the Whole Thing To Be Sure” and again to the desk too small for God. Just a few years ago the battle that I waged in education was between those that were amazed with the potential of the information age and its Internet medium and those that felt either threatened by it, were terrified of it or both. Who were these in the latter camp? Librarians! Behind every adjustment to a Firewall there appeared a librarian – confident in their certainty that it was they, and they alone, who were the vital link in the information chain that 2.0 appeared to breaking. At one campus the directive from the Information Czar was “Thou Shall Not Use Google!”
This exercise and Spring Branch ISD’s apparent openness regarding 2.0 tools is a refreshing breath of air. Is a new wind blowing? I can see that the effective, 21st Century Skills Info/Facilitator/Librarian to be one that recognizes that not only that the means to access and acquire information are different, the patrons and their needs are different, but that the Information is now different. Personages of Information Title and Authority are being systematically torn down by web ubiquity and equity. This is a positive change….BUT….for the individual with access and some management tools, the problem of the too small desk looms darkly still. Rather than wood or Formica, the desktop is now bundles of electrons and tag clouds that stretch farther and with more branches, tributaries and rabbit holes than ever before in human history. We still need facilitators, information access and instruction facilitators…the modern 2.0 librarian. Thank your lucky stars for them! The same is true for teachers and administrators. (Well, that last category may be a bit of a stretch!)
I know that this shift in the concept of a library has only begun in me personally, as I still prefer hard bound information in certain contexts (ex. fiction and non-fiction pleasure reading). As a teacher, I have embraced, though not fully realized, the 2.0 classroom, but I can see the image and it is becoming more focused. If any change coming to school libraries is anything like change in general and particularly that in education, it will come slowly. I see the libraries of tomorrow to be more in the business of providing access and guidance over housing collections. I know that if a work is available, it takes a matter of moments for it to be accessed through my telephone. If I decide I want the paper version, another touch of a button activates a continually improving supply chain and it arrives in the mail literally in a matter of hours.

Thing # 14

I did cruise around Technorati and found it to be only marginally interesting. I did not find any results for School Library Learning 2.0 in any of the categories; in fact, I was unable to find/see any means to search tags. Tagging in general has broad application in the classroom as has been addressed in other Thing posts. This is a first for this exercise, but I can’t see a way that I could use Technoati that adds anything to the other tools that I have explored. I registered with the site, subscribed to it in my reader, and did Claim my blog. Hopefully, I will see some traffic!

Thing # 13

Although I have used bookmarking sites in the past, I never really appreciated their full benefit, viewing them mainly as a personal convenience rather that a professional development and pedagogical tool.
At the beginning of my “Staff Development Summer 2010” I took a “Shifting Literacies” offering. As part of that training the facilitators asked that we create a Diigo account and experiment with the Highlighting and Sticky note functions. Having a real-time dialog with others reading the same thing was a new experience for me. I also like the having those comments saved for later review. Further, it is beneficial to be able to annotate a page and send it to colleagues for discussion. From there I created a Diigo group for the participants in that class and have joined other groups that provide updates as items are added. I have created numerous lists to further refine my online categorization. See them here.
After viewing Delicious (again) I haven’t been able to discover any aspect of the tool that compares to Diigo. For research capability, using ANY bookmarking tool seems absolutely vital. I see the process of categorizing sites into lists, creating tags, using tags to discover resources and commenting on what was found as important as any finished product. For general classroom use, the ability to pose questions in the text AND to view responses seems far preferable that just sharing sites.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Diigo! What's it all about?

Diigo V5: Collect and Highlight, Then Remember! from diigobuzz on Vimeo.

Thing # 11

As advertised: SUPER Simple! I see several very important ways this platform could benefit what I am trying to do in my present situation: 1) a way to expand my book “vocabulary” and let others help with the mental editing of what books to read and more importantly what NOT to read; 2) Connect with others with similar interests to not only have meaningful dialog, but to delve deeper into fundamentally difficult concepts or those misunderstood; 3) Professional networking with like-minded colleagues and to build bridges with those who “appear” not like minded; 4) Create yet another layer of web presence to communicate with students and have students communicate/collaborate with each other AND in the worldwide neighborhood. Check out my Library Thing Profile It was in browsing the Groups that I could "see" the professional development and student engagement angles. I joined the Library Thing for New Members and the Non-Fiction groups to learn more about the most efficient ways to use it AND so I can possibly curb my purchases of books based on thoughtful reviews/comments.

Thing # 10

One of the most, at once, rewarding, fulfilling and exasperating aspects of this Library2Play exercise is the things you stumble upon during the exploration on the creative highway. While looking at one of the suggested links I cam across MyWebFace. I used the product arising from the cartooning of myself as the new Blog avatar. I found this platform much more user friendly than the Yahoo avatar creator, there were far more tweeky tools to play with AND the image I created looks a lot closer to me that my original avatar. Still, the image is mostly wishful thinking. I want to expose my students to use this for their individual blogs not only as reasonably life like, yet non-photographic representations, but I like the creativity/design aptitude nurturing as well. I also toyed with the Comic Strip Creator, but my creation didn't match the image I want my web presence to convey, so I keep it safe from public consumption. At first, I wanted to use it as a way to have kids that are into graphic novels/comics to be able to have an outlet for their compositions, but my experience suggested that I should do some more work with it or look into other means. Earlier, I had given Bitstrips a try. I signed up for a trial subscription, played just enough to get frustrated, and then forgot about it until AFTER the free period ran out! But the creations I have seen using this platform look very promising.

My last few posts have been my experimentation's with some of the applications at ImageChef. My experience with this platform offered what I like most: variety with simplicity. I would use these tools to help students bring their poetry to L I F E !
The post just before this one is a Wordle using this blog. I have used Wordle as a way to introduce a novel, highlight vocabulary in a chapter or unit, and as a way to demonstrate understanding of character traits, setting characteristics, or elements of conflict or plot structure. It is a versatile and super simple tool.

Library2Play....Wordle Style

Wordle: Summer Thoughts

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thing # 9

I use Google Blog search. I don’t know if it is the easiest or not, but I am able to find things that interest me. I have a Bloglines account, but was unable to access the search function. The Edublog Award Winner’s site is a great place to reap the benefits of other’s time in finding the best stuff and I have used this in the past. In regard to looking at the offerings that were new, from what I could tell from references to SuperGlu, it seems very helpful, but I was unable to get any of the links for it to open. I didn’t like the look or functionality of Topix, and the same for Syndic8. Technorati would be my choice if I was choosing something new from these, but I’m not. The reason is that the device or platform that one uses to find feeds cannot provide the time to read and therefore benefit from that voluminous amount of information.
• Which was more confusing? Syndic8 and Topix.
• What kind of useful feeds did you find in your travels? Or what kind of unusual ones did you find?
From the YALSA site, I stumbled upon Tame the Web which appears to be current and forward thinking. The concept of “travels” is interesting for the purposes of this “Things” endeavor. Yes, I am learning a lot, and yes, I have traveled freely and discovered Many interesting tools and services….but, I get to drink coffee and play around and wander from about 6:00 am to 10:00 am without duty or interruption. When school starts this ability will cease. Which brings me to the realization that all these devices to “find” the musings of interesting folks on fascinating topics, begs the question: What are you going to do with it? I am thinking that it is better to find a few folks who’s opinions and philosophy you “trust” and wander with them…..just saying…
For what I have found that is interesting…please see the Fruits of My Summer 2010 Wanderings

Daniel Pink's "Drive" Presentation - What This Means for the Classroom?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Thing # 8

  • What do you like about RSS and readers? I like the ease to which I can subscribe to things that I see and "think" that I might have an interest. I like the way that these subscriptions are automatically assembled into my reader. I like the way the process of aggregating ALL this information forces to you to categorize - lest you become overwhelmed in a matter of moments. This process in itself is valuable in that you are creating little "mind palaces" and training yourself to be organized. For example, in reading Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind, I had been busy "discovering" the resources he suggests in each of the Portfolio sections.  In subscribing to many of these, I soon discovered that I had too many new feeds to do me much good - meaning that I really wanted to delve into the concepts of Design, Story, etc. I spent about 30 minutes trying to figure out how to categorize them. It was this Library2Play exercise that helped me create folders. Well enough for categories that spoon-fed, but the real value of creating folders arises in the sorting of sites that one happens upon in the process of building the Conceptual Age aptitude of Symphony (Pink). Not only is the process building organization in the web presence and in the mind, but it is like a workout for your creativity.
  • How do you think you might be able to use this technology in your school or personal life?  There are numerous categories of information in which I want/need to keep abreast in my "work" life: Reading/Writing strategies, Pre-AP lessons, Lesson Planning, Edu-Advocacy, Professional Orgs/Journals that I don't necessarily need clogging up my other "lives". Overall, the paramount benefit is the time saving aspect. To borrow form Simon & Garfunkel, "Ahh, I can gather all the news I need on the Reader Report"
  • How can libraries/teachers/administrators use readers or take advantage of this new technology? In addition to the comments above, I can see using readers and in particular, the sharing aspect to facilitate a topic study - 21st Century tools in the classroom, RTI, edu-leadership, ,etc.

How can teachers teach the value of heresy? by eduheretic

How can teachers teach the value of heresy? by eduheretic



Pink's Proposal

I picked up A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink as it was suggested by Karl Fisch in a recent Shifting Literacies staff development.  It is an ausome and amazing read.  I also picked up this Instant Poetry app on my phone as a way to ramp up or just complement by Right Brain tune up. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mobile Blogging

I have several students with SmartPhones and this will be a great addition to a 21st Century approach to a Literacy Arts classroom! WOOHOO

Thing #7 Google Rules the WORLD!

I have used a variety of Google Applications over the years, but I have been distracted by my inability to keep all my stuff in the same place. In calendars, I have Outlook on the home machine and on the work machine and have never been very proficient at sync them together with different versions at each place. I have been using an iphone for the past couple of years and the device lets me see all the various entries over several calendars but I have not found a way to have the entries entered into the phone to go back to the various calendars....I think I may have these problems (they may have only been problems due to technical ineptitude) licked and kicked after playing around with my existing calendar for this exercise. I created a new Google calendar with the same title as the blog that I intend to use with my classes. I shared it and gave posting & management rights to my team colleagues initially just to experiment with it, but hopefully for planning/collaborative purposes. Next I activated the mobile device extensions so it can all be sent to the iphone. (It is amazing how in just the last few years, my practices have changed so radically away from work on the desk/lap top to the iphone) Obviously, the benefit to the classroom is for students to be able to keep abreast of assignments. More so, I think the access to the class calendar to post events might work well towards real buy-in to a class community. From a productivity standpoint, I feel that I am now in a position of creating events just once and having multiple reminders of tasks and to dos across a variety of platforms.Lastly, I added it to my blog.
I have an igoogle page that I really love and use on my home machine.  It keeps me constantly hooked up to the news services, personal blogs, and edu-blogs that I want to see. There are so many really fun and useful apps here.  I love the Art Work of the Day, the Sticky Note, and the translation tool. I had begun to use Google Docs in my former position, but it never really went to far, as students were unable to gain access at school and my former district was afraid of such open platforms. Obviously this app is a wonderful way for educators to collaborate on lesson, parent letters, grant proposals, syllabai (?), etc. However the real benefit of Google Docs will reveal itself in student (individual, small group, class, department, world) collaboration on a document or presentation. As exciting as the potential these apps represent, it is nothing compared to the REALITY of using them! Starting in the August, ALL my students will have access to Google Apps!
I also experimented with Google Notebook and it looks promising, though I have to say (if I understand its intended use) is that Delicious and especially Diigo seem to be better bookmarking platforms. I also use Google Reader, but I tend to subscribe to too many streams and end up not really using it. That is my fault and not the app's....but that's a Thing #8 discussion.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Thing #6 - Mash it UP!

I look forward to becoming a grown up, the man I want to be, the eager student, the wise sage on the stage, and now, at last, the Guide on the Side. I am a huge fan of scrap booking as a means of relaxation through artistic expression. My "old school" nature engenders a love of the real feel of artifacts from my various exploits and adventures - the receipt from the expensive gourmet meal, the stub for the roller-coaster that ripped the heart from my chest, the perfect photo that ordinarily overlaps, yet mimics approximately the extra-ordinariness of the  comparison....but these applications are an oldmanturningyoungerman's digital dream works! When I can't wait to get out there and upload my digital adventure record to Flickr and then spend a day or 10 in personal satisfaction....then I am Busting-at-the-Seams giddy to provide these opportunities for students to demonstrate their understanding of the heretofore difficult, dry, and boring concepts of setting, characterization, plot, theme, mood, tone in a format rich beyond the dreams of avarice over the 5 piece paragraph, the multipleguessbraindead assessment....well, I am impressed! There is so much very doable and valuable cool stuff in just this one place. The beauty of it is that one test run, leads to another and another and then to the glorious pedagogical realization....that only the iceberg's tip has been glanced, not even really seen, far from being witnessed or explored.....Literacy Arts Indeed!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Thing #5

Flickr is Quickr! I spent the first week of the summer in a College Board Pre-AP training. Many of the strategies were taught using images to get to the heart of disscussions on subject matter, mood, tone, and theme. Last week I attended a Promethean workshop in Fort Worth where the use of images to get to the heart of content were highlighted. My favorite recreational blog uses images very effectively to get its point across. I see the Flickr as a very effective and efficient tool to find quality images on the fly. The creative common aspect is not only a relief from copyright concerns, but offers a real-world segue into that otherwise, eye-rolling and sigh inducing subject. I can see using Flickr in a number of ways in Language Arts. One way is through the 4 image story - here the students would create, organize, manage, select, edit and assemble images to tell a story(ies) according to selected or assigned theme(s). Flickr provides an easily accessible and a manageable storage tools for individual students, student groups within and across classrooms and content areas. Images are not only a great enhancement to student writing, but can be inspiring nudges for reluctant and/or struggling writers. Lastly, I see numerous possibilities for inter-disciplinary units using image tags.

Pearl Jam - Just Breathe

Le Tour de France 2010


Friday, June 11, 2010

Educational Leadership:Expecting Excellence:Rigor Redefined

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Thing # 3 Blog & Avatar

I had experimented with blogging a few years ago in a variety of fomats: wikispaces, pbwiki (now pbworks), ning and blogger. I had toyed with wetpaint, but never found it satisfactory. Blogger is actually pretty simple to use and I like simple - Who doesn't! The set up was as easy as I had remembered. I met the avatar challenge with some trepidation.......not sure why, just that I have this idiotwithimages stamp on my forehead. I'm not sure how it got there, but past experience justifies its presence at the front n' center of my being. I have been having issues with my machine so the toggling back & forth between pages for directions was a more than a little exasperating. Also, I was looking for a better likeness: bald, glasses, whitening facial hair, WILDCRAZY ties, earrings....I guess what I ended up with represents more wishful thinking than acceptance of the harsh realities of gettingolder aging. I can see that this avatar biz satisfies at least 2 concerns I have with student blogs - it allows for some degree of actual representation with a fair dose of creative expression AND it's not an actual photograph. I think this coupled with "stage" names would provide calm for web predator concerns. This easy process also makes me see beyond my "One Class Blog" approach to envision a class network of student blogs.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Thing # 2

I worked on the post in Word thinking I could paste it in....Blogger won't allow that, yet it will allow one to paste a comment...strange. So I am asking for permission to let my comment count as my Thing # 2 post in this one instance?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Summer 2010 Staff Development Goals

This is going to be one cool summer! I am starting the College Board Pre-AP English course next week - Man, I hope it's good. Really, all a highly paid professional requires is that a course adhere to the command, "Don't Waste My Time!"
Then I begin (posting for Credit that is) on the 23 Things Web 2.0 tools thang...hopefully I can get to tackle the 11 More Things Web 2.0 thang.....Then on Monday - 6/14 - I get to attend the Shifting Literacies double am sessions....then if I can get the district's staff development page to open, I'll go for a day of looking at an ActiveBoard LA classroom....then the fam is off to Cosmo Fort Worth for a Promethean's ActiveBoard Symposium/Workshop. Of course there will be BBQ and Art Museums, and a roller coaster or three to thrill to! I'll be reading and posting on A Framework for Understanding Poverty (IF I can manage to get on the wiki!), creating personal musings and chasmodically deep insights on the films Freedom Writers and Under the Same Moon. Then after a look at several eastern colleges we can't afford, I venture to Austin for a retreat with my SFMS LA colleagues and get all prepped out for the new year....then to the New Jersey Writing Project for 3 weeks of guud ol lurnin' bout ritin'. Oh yeah, the Goal! Be a an effective LA teacher that actually teaches some 21st Century Skills. First step! Let's ROCK!