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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Daily Spotlight on Education 09/30/2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Daily Spotlight on Education 09/28/2008

  • Amanda Stone and the teachers in Hoover City use this to teach internet safety. They have to pass certain courses. The teachers set up the student accounts and the teachers manage their own classroom -- controlling their buddy lists and everything. The teachers connect w/ their students on the weekends and off times w/ their kids.

    Great entry to a virtual world!!! It bans them if they do innappropriate things -- so their goal for 5th grade is to get zero bans for the year. The teacher can control it. Each student have their own woogie -- eg. Davisteacher would be me -- my students would be davis1 davis2, etc.
    Pretty cool.

  • Cool wiki page - Amanda Stone from Hoover City schools in Alabama along with the help of Carla Marchant, tech coach in Hoover City, Alabama made this amazing wiki page with so many things that can be embedded into a wiki. This is a great list and has some things I want to play with!

    Great job!

Friday, September 26, 2008

The New Design for the Classroom that ROCKS MY WORLD!!!

Today, Finn McKenty a strategist for Kaleidescope, a product design company, and Greener Grass, gave me a quick view of some concepts for future classroom design.

I felt my whole world turn over.

I've been telling my students that one day we'll laugh about how we had computers on our desks b/c they will become integrated into everything - walls, desks, and we just won't need the PC anymore, but I didn't really UNDERSTAND what I was saying.

Now, maybe, I do.

Take a look at this board.

Just a whiteboard???? NO!!!!

Now, look at this picture:

What you see are individual, microsoft surface enabled BOARDS in the upright position and individual, Microsoft Surface enabled DESKS in the background.

Boards are desks, desks are boards.  Upright, they separate the room and allow for group and individual projects.  Laying flat, they are desks for more traditional environments.  And, they roll.

Some schools have janitors that put dots on the floor to tell teachers where they have permission to "put" their desks.  They might as well get over it, because our classrooms, if configured with such configurable, movable, computing / surface devices which are multi wall / table will be OURS for the teaching.

How much are these?

Not for sale yet.

Do they have potential?

Absolutely.  Absolutely. Absolutely.

I would love these and am now thinking -- if Microsoft Surface is truly configured as it needs to be, could a screen be split into multiple screens for editing and working on the same surface - individual or group spaces.

Oh my goodness - I WOULD LOVE A ROOM LIKE THAT.  And I teach technology.  I am that teacher who takes my kids to the auditorium to sit on the floor, the lunch room to sit at flat tables (w/out monitors in the way) -- moves monitors and keyboards onto the floor to have table tops for special projects or brainstorming sessions.

Sometimes my room has 40-50 kids in it (when doing elementary projects where my older kids are teaching digital citizenship.)

I say, GIVE ME MY ROOM BACK.  I'd use these devices in a heart beat if they were available and I had the budget.  Of course, the one thing we DON'T see are those pesky power cords and cables that are such a beast to deal with and to truly make these possible, that sort of thing would have to be discussed and planned for!

Just showed them to my principal and curriculum director and looking at things like this definitely cause a complete shift of the brain.  But I like it, I really do.  These things have potential.

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Daily Spotlight on Education 09/26/2008

  • Working on wiki preso for Saturday -- advanced wikis for elementary teachers. This will be a work in progress until Saturday.

    tags: education, wiki

  • This is going to be a very exciting event for Hoover City, Alabama Elementary School teachers this Saturday. They will be ustreaming the event live. Check the wiki for the schedule, but my first preso, "Excellence Driven Education" will be on at 8 am CDT until 8:45 am CDT (that is central US time.) Focus will be on differentiating with technology as you teach. This applies to all teaching scenarios.

    tags: education, learning, christian

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Firefox ate my post.

Firefox ate my blog post.

OK, I had a lovely post on digital citizenship, but Firefox downloaded a new version and decided to reboot in the midst - so guess it will have to wait for another day.

Been noticing a little instability in Firefox 3, but then again firefox is so far superior to anything else I've used, that it is just my favorite browser.  I love how my banking services still make me log into their systems with IE, although firefox seems to be more safe than IE.

Guess I'll post later.  Goodnight.

Daily Spotlight on Education 09/24/2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Book Reimagining Education Captures my Imagination

I get quite  a few books to review, but this one had me captured as soon as I opened it.  Reimagining Education by Jerry Goebel is obviously written by a man who loves kids who can be tough to love.  Although, he does work with a faith based program, so many things he writes about are just plain common sense.

Although his suggestions aren't written from a classroom teachers standpoint, many of the suggestions are things I do in my own classroom.  Some of my favorite quotes sure to spark debate:

"children begin to confuse love with performance-based approval. 'I will love you if you do what I want.' That is not love. That is manipulation.  Love is offering a person unconditional dignity. Manipulation is offering performance-based approval." (p 24)

On the issues raging in science and religion:

"The true duality faced faced by today's youth and adults is not between science and religion, but between scientists who overstep their discipline and religions who fear that God might be larger than their theology...It is wrong when one 'adult' party or the other steep their statements in presumptuous language and attack the character of those who believe differently.  This may feel righteous to the adults involved, but becomes intolerance for the children who observe our tirades far more closely than we truly wish they would. Young people may or may not 'get' the concepts we teach, but they sure 'get' the incivility of the discussion." (p37)

What Goebel does extremely well is define the role of volunteers in the lives of children.  He defines poverty as "the lack of healthy relationships" and states that "social networking is one of the most important skills we can develop in our lives," a skill rarely taught in schools.  And note, he is talking about online and offline relationships.

He also talks about how to use students as leaders (often putting them in other schools for temporary leadership roles to avoid the stigma and pressure of being teachers pet) and how "prejudice cannot withstand relationship" (p 59) - something I wholeheartedly agree with as I've seen it in many of our projects.

Sometimes I wanted to stand up and yell "yes!" like when he says:

"We know that a child is most likely to be bullied within a block of school or a block of  a bus stop.  We even know the time - between 3 and 3:30 every afternoon.  If we knew the places and times that an adult was most likely to be assulted or harassed, we would impeach our mayors if they didn't do something about it.  We have such a double standard for what we are willing to let our children tolerate. If they get beat up, we call it bullying, if we get beat up, we call it assault." (p 69)

He talks about the widening gap between education and community and made a statement that should haunt every person approaching retirement age:

"a young person might go through their entire career without every seeing a dying or impoverished person.  But consider this, at some point in time, these young people will be called to set public policy for the care of the Baby Boom generation that is now retiring.  Our students today will be responsible for the largest group of retirees in history. How does a young person make an informed decision with no personal connection to those who will experience the impact of those decisions.  Simply stated, he or she doesn't."

I think this is an important book to read because it talks about many of the things left out of current "educational" material.  Community service, connection, love, acceptance, respect, empowering students to help improve their community in ways that work, and the need for volunteers in the lives of students.

You may not agree with everything he says, but it will get your mind thinking in directions that it needs to go, for the good of education.  This is a grassroots book that deserves attention, and no, I don't make one dime on the sale of this book (online on lulu) and I don't know Mr. Goebel (but I want to.)

This is an excellent book -- he has a public school version for secular education as well as a faith based version of the book. This is a great read and I literally have read the whole thing in a day and a half.

Daily Spotlight on Education 09/23/2008

  • Beta gives you free access to a lot of course material for Brightstorm for at least the next few weeks. If you're having trouble and would like some help, sign up. Only two weeks left.

    tags: education, beta, edu_newapp

Monday, September 22, 2008

Don't Be a Dead Sea

The Dead Sea takes in water but there is no outlet to the sea.  Thus, it is salty, bitter, and generally just... dead.

People who are a dead sea are always taking, using up things and become bitter.

Dead Sea people never give anything to another person and never share.

There is no, "here let me show you," but only "let me take from you."

Dead Sea people suck the life out of others.  They sit in classes, and professional development and never give back anything but bitterness.

Don't be a Dead Sea.

The Dead Sea is benign but still harmful -- I could see an ancient famished traveler running to the beautiful blue shores thirsting for a drink with a horrible mouth full of salty, bitter nastiness.  No fish to cook, no water to drink.  Just a deceptive body of water masquerading as an oasis that provides no sustenance for life.

What are you?  A Live or Dead?

Are YOU getting Bitter or Getting Better?

Daily Spotlight on Education 09/22/2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Administration Should Be Like the "Pit Crew"

Recently, I talked with a close friend who is a teacher in a local public school.  She discussed budget cuts and all of the things happening that have made the classroom a bit stressful, and then she threw out something I've heard before:
"The toughest things about cutting back is that some administrative positions are just unnecessary and have been made for people who can do nothing else.  Here we are cutting a hundred dollars here and there and these one or two people represent at least 60,000 a piece and offer no direct benefit to the classroom."
To me, times are lean and mean.  The classroom should be like a well maintained car and administration should be like the pit crew.  They should give the classroom the tools they need, encouragement, a mission, and quick "pit stops" to improve and keep them going.

What is happening instead is that some of the pit crew are opening up the trunk and piling in lead weights.  Others are siphoning off gas as teacher time and energy is wasted on side issues not important to the classroom.

Paperwork to be written but never read.

Time in meetings that are meaningless.

My friend was telling me about a particular position called the "Administrator of Community Involvement."  This administrator plans 1 hour sessions in the gym every Thursday for 1600 high school students who listen to a person in the community talk about their job.  All of this, while the teachers confiscate cell phones and "shush" students who cannot hear because of the pitiful PA system.

Last week, the person who spoke had a tiny little tv and dvd that couldn't be seen or heard.

In my humble opinion, this administrator is hurting the cause they are to support.  All of the teachers know it, but if they don't have the assemblies, why should this person have a job?

This is a position that is piling lead weight in the trunk of the car, taking kids out of the classroom, and frustrating teachers who need to get things done and siphoning their energy.

We must be efficient and lean.  That is one thing we almost do too well at our school - sometimes we are lean to a fault.  Our part time curriculum director works full time anyway.  Every person is so necessary that they do the jobs of at least a person and a half.

And yet, there are always those who are taking up space... at every school.

If you're not helping the cause of education, you're hurting it.  And with times being tough, those who count themselves leaders need to take a hard look at their own rolls when asking teachers to make cuts.  For, to ask teachers to make sacrifices when you aren't willing is unfair and breeds contempt.

Being a general manager in business previously, administrators don't want to cut a position because they fear they will never get it back.  However, great benefits come from having flatter, leaner organizations and if you're asking teachers to do more with less, so can you.

Take a hard look at the pit crew -- are they equipping and helping the classroom improve or siphoning off energy and weighing it down.  Ask the teachers, they'll tell you, that is if you REALLY want to know.

Daily Spotlight on Education 09/21/2008

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Upcoming Cool Cat Calendar

I've switched over my lesson planning and life to Google Calendar, so now I have a public calendar for those of you who might want to stop by and say hello when I'm in your area.  It is indeed an honor and a privilege to be asked to share and I'm very excited about the upcoming events for this year, including next weekend in the area where my Mother is from.  Mom's from Trussville, but I'll be over in Hoover City Schools where Amanda Stone has put together a gangbuster Saturday called Engage08.  Looks like I'll be able to ustream the keynote at 8 am CDT.

Spending more time with webinars and skyping into college classrooms as can be fit in- these are great because I can share and then go back to playing umpire!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Daily Spotlight on Education 09/19/2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I Dig my Diigo Classroom: Will you help me test it?

We've been using our Diigo classroom (will be coming out of Beta) and testing it. So, this is what I need some Diigo users out there to do for me.  (HELP ME TEST IT!)

Here are the recent links from my 9th grade computer fundamentals course:

If you have diigo and a diigo toolbar, go to one of the links, and then open up your diigo sidebar (click the small page w/ green plus on the left side of the toolbar) and see if you can see who annotated and made the comment (you are supposed to).  Then, see if you can contact my student or how much information you can see on them.  I just want to know and test this before we use w/ flat classroom.

I'm also wondering if there is a way for you to figure out how to get to my computer fundamentals class homepage?  Not going to share the link, just wondering if you can figure it out or if it is possible. This is still in beta, so adding feedback.

Classrooms have three ways to set up, I let my students sign up for a diigo account, and then I sent them an email to their address, however, you'll be able to set it up w/out the students having an email.  When they set up and they join the class- they are automatically friended by everyone in the class. They are not supposed to be contacted from the outside.

We're making a list of our likes and dislikes, but I found this comment from a student very interesting.

Vicki Davis wrote:
> How do you think annotating the Internet would be useful to students? What specific applications do you think it has?

"People say that students learn better from other students than from teachers so when we bookmark and and highlight things then we can learn a lot faster and easier." T.

Daily Spotlight on Education 09/18/2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Handy Project Tip: Try URL parking to Simplify Things

OK, this is a little geeky, but the result is very very nice if you're going to run a project over multiple years.

This is the third Flat Classroom project and the second Digiteen.  Well, what do we do with all the links out there and making sure that everything is linked together?  We've recently "messed around with it" and came up with a nice little innovation.  Net cost per project if you buy domains in bulk (and get a discount) $16.45. 

I bought the domains www.flatclassroomproject.com and www.digiteen.net.  Then, I bought URL forwarding -- yes, we could have done this other ways, but with all of the services we are using, this is the best way.

This is what the URL's look like right now:

OK, so what does this do?

Well, now:
HOw does this look for digiteen?
So, it just makes things easier for us.  I can go in on the back end and update where things should point depending on this year's project.  This has always been a problem since we started with the second Flat Classroom project.

It is so important to be able to share and leave student work for purposes of legacy, I believe, but it is not always practical to reuse the same wiki.  I use bulkregister.com but have a bulk account because I used to buy a lot of domain names when I was a hosting reseller and website designer. (pre teaching)

OK, the WORST way about doing this is the google search engine thing.  WE'll have to have a hosted main website and then link to all of these things, but right now, with this coming out of my pocket, I'm just not ready for another full site to maintain, I just can't keep my own updated and am  not going to add any more.

Do you do this sort of thing? What helps you?

Daily Spotlight on Education 09/17/2008

  • Case Study: When it pays to take care of educators. I like the people at wikispaces and am proud of what they've accomplished. I also appreciate all of the others who have given away ad free sites, but certainly being the first to do it has made a difference and earned the loyalty of many like me who know that ad free is the only way to be in education.

    I like this article, not just because it touts wikispaces (which I love, as you know) BUT, it sends a message to other companies that taking care of educators makes a huge difference.

    Congratulations, Adam and friends.

    tags: education, wiki

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How Can Second Life Be Used by the Visually Impaired: Tune in TODAY!!!

People with special needs and learning differences are near and dear to my heart, so this is one that has to be passed along.

Whether or not Second Life is the platform of our future, if you're attending conferences like NECC and listening to academicians, 3D virtual worlds USED WELL can reach kids who we're struggling to reach everywhere.

Today, this is what is happening:

Louise Later (SL), who is legally blind, will be with us to discuss how Second Life is used by the visually impaired. She will demonstrate two scripted objects currently under development designed specifically for the visually impaired: a mobility cane and a guide dog, and she will also talk about how EVA (an screen readin g tool) benefits visually impaired users, and her work with Virtual Ability, a Colorado-based startup developing products to assist people with different type of disabilities to utilize Second Life.
For more about accessibility in Second Life, click here: http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Accessibility
Location: ISTE Island Bandshell: http://slurl.com/secondlife/ISTE%20Island/128/128/25
Time: 6:00 pm SLT (click here for your local time zone)

Thank you, Kevin Jarrett  and ISTE Island for your leadership in this area!   I'm in the process of setting up an office in there and hope to have office hours sometime so we can "meet."  I need to decorate the office too, so if any of you have "stuff" you can share, just friend me, Cool Cat Whitman.  I'm a newbie (still) be nice to me!

And if you haven't joined SL yet -- today is a great day to be born.

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Dear Tom Part 5: Getting Started with Wikis This Week

Another conversation between Tom Harrison, from Delaware, and I as he embarks on using wikis in the classroom.  You can follow all of the "letters" in this conversation by going to the Tag for "Tom Harrison" on this blog.


Thanks again for the prompt and remarkedly thorough response to my questions.  Had I taken the time (or thought of it!) I could have looked into the "members" section under "Manage Space" and seen that I am set up as administrator and the rest of my students are just members.  One worry resolved.  I also found a Wikispace warranty (permission slip) somewhere on the web that I have modified and printed out.  Tough punishment for first offenders will send a message.

Hey, I'd love the link for the permission slip to share with others.  And yes, whether you can use  a wiki long term is determined on the FIRST day.  Mom always said, you can never be tougher than you are on the first day of class, and the same applies for wikis.

You really nailed me with the comment about me probably being a perfectionist.  I absolutely laughed out loud at that and I had to read it to my wife who also laughed out loud.  Guilty as charged!  I have been one virtually all of my life and I totally blame my parents!

Welcome to the perfectionists club!  I'm a card carrying member too.  I've had to learn that perfection with these online spaces exists in the imperfection and teachable moments that emerge in this online medium.  If everything was "perfect" it would be imperfect because the real world is not perfect.

I appreciate your suggestions about keeping the sites on the private/private subscription.  However, I really want them to publish for a wider audience and I already told parents at Open House that they would be able to view the work we were doing in class.  I want the students in other classes to critique the work of their teammates.  If this turns into a bad thing I can go to the private setting, but I think I want to just jump in and make it visible.  Right now all the class sites are set to public/private and I want to try it like that first.

Mine is public too and I'm happy with it.  As long as you subscribe via RSS in your reader and check it frequently (like hourly) the first week or so until things settle down.  I'm glad my parents didn't know about the wiki when we started.  Now, it doesn't matter, but initially my one or two bumps were handled quickly and privately.

I am introducing the site this week to my classes...and yes, I am going to go "all in" to start.  I am such a glutton for punishment!

Good luck, I look forward to seeing how it goes as do some eager readers!  I do hope you'll start blogging your experiences, although I guess letting me share these letters is the second best thing.

Take care, and thanks again for all your help!


Monday, September 15, 2008

Flat Classroom 2008 Classrooms Announced - 17 classes from 8 countries

We're so excited to share this announcement - we had so many schools apply and have done our best to get a good fit for the project AND find ways for every teacher who applied to be involved in some way. Unfortunately, we've had a few challenges reaching everyone who applied as some firewalls won't let us through. If you are one of those teachers who applied and you have not heard from us -- PLEASE check your spam folder -- we've been trying to reach you. Here is our official announcement.

The Flat Classroom Project 2008

For Immediate Release - September 15, 2008
Doha, Qatar and Camilla, GA USA

The organizers of the Flat Classroom project are excited to announce the selection of the 17 participating classrooms for the 2008 project.  These schools represent more than 275 students, from eight countries, and will run from October 1 - December 4, 2008.

The Flat Classroom Project is a global Hands-on project for senior high school students which was founded by Julie Lindsay (Qatar Academy, Qatar) and Vicki Davis (Westwood School s, USA) in 2006 .  This project has won ISTE's Online Learning Award (2007) and included in Thomas Friedman's book, the World is Flat, upon which the project is based.  Students will research trends in information technology and globalization, write a collaborative research report, and produce digital videos about their topics.

This year's classrooms include (in alphabetical order by country.)


Anne Mirtschin,
Hawkesdale P12 College
Hawkesdale, Australia

John Turner*
Presbyterian Ladies College
Melbourne, Australia


Anjuman Ara Begum
Chowara Girls' High School
Comilla, Bangladesh


David Clapp
British International School
Budapest Hungary


Salim Al-Busaidi
Osama Bin Zaid School
Adam, Oman


Minhaaj ur Rehman
Bloomfield Hall
Islamabad, Pakistan


Ray Jones
Qatar Academy *~
Doha, Qatar

Saudi Arabia

Bruce Doig
American International School
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

United States

Madeline Brownstone*
Baccalaureate School for Global Education
Astoria, New York City, NY

Tanya Gray and Aimee Stoffel*
USD 352 Goodland High School
Goodland, KS

Jason Neiffer
Capital High School
Helena, Montana

John Peters
Hereford Independent School District
Hereford, TX

Estie Cuellar
Spring Woods High School
Houston, TX

Yvonne Caples, Will Nichols
Virtual High School
Las Vegas, NV

Barrie Becker*
Los Angeles County High School for the Arts
Los Angeles, CA

Dwayne Voegeli
Winona Senior High School
Winona, Minnesota

Vicki Davis*
Westwood Schools
Camilla, GA

*Project "veterans" - these schools have participated in a previous project.
~Host school for 2009 Flat Classroom Conference, January 24-26 2009. All details at

Additionally, the project organizers are seeking one to two schools in the Asian region to participate in this year's project.  Interested participants should email flatclassroomproject@gmail.com.

The project also involves Peer Review Classrooms (Sounding Boards) and any interested teacher is invited to sign up for this Group on the Flatclassroom NingExpert Advisors are being sought to advise the students during the project.  Judges will be involved at the end of the project to review student work and provide feedback for a Global Awards summit to be held in elluminate at the conclusion fo the project.

"We believe that we are building communication bridges today that the students of tomorrow will walk across," say Davis and Lindsay, the project's co-organizers.  "This project is ambitious, however, its success is built upon the fact that the teachers and classrooms that participate are of global quality caliber and have high standards of excellence.  We bridge cultural, religious, and public and private boundaries and are always excited to see the students thrive and succeed in this environment.  Our world is global and our classrooms should be too!"

"Although selection is closed, we are still seeking one to two classrooms in the Pacific Rim area to add to the project," says Davis. 

For more information about this project see http://flatclassroomproject2008.wikispaces.com/Project+2008+Info.  Members of the press are invited to participate as observers and this year's project will also include a research component.  Lindsay and Davis also co-plan and manage the Digiteen Project (digital citizenship for middle and early high school students) and the Horizon Project and are planning the first face to face Flat Classroom Conference in Doha, Qatar in January sponsored by HSBC bank and Qatar Academy.

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Dear Tom Part 4: Wiki Privacy Levels, Student Plaigarism, and Getting Nervous

Another installment the ongoing conversations between Tom Harrison, 7th grade teacher in Delaware, and me.

In Email Letter 1, we talked about wikis, Letter 2 was a follow up on wikis and blogs, in Letter 3 we talk about wiki text, diigo and bookmark sharing, and staying motivated when other teachers seem not to care about what we're doing and in this letter we talk about privacy letters, wiki wars, and plaigarism.

I am in blue on this email:
I was talking to my student teacher today about our wikis and how I hope they will be used in this upcoming unit.  In our discussions several things came up that I have some questions about.
1.  I created the wikispace for each class.  Each student in each class has a username and password to that class wikispace.  If I post a list of assignments on that space, how do I prevent that page from being edited by a student?  I know I can lock a page, but it seems that all that is necessary is to select the page and then click unlock.  How do you prevent student tampering with the pages you create?

The only reason you see unlock is that you are an administrator.  The students are just members so they will not see unlock.  There are different levels of permissions. I HIGHLY suggest that you set up your student teacher as a member also (let him/her join the space) and then promote him/her to manager as well. This lets you see who has done what and provides the accountability we want to teach children.  We should never share user ID's but be accountable for our own behavior is a principle I teach the students. 
2.  As students go through the assignments and then need to use templates to complete assignments, they are naming them using the numbering system you suggested and adding their names to the numbers to identify their page.  Can't anyone on the space (other students) see their work by just clicking on their page?  What prevents plagiarism?  Can student pages be tampered with as well?  I know that changes can be undone and any student who edits anything can be identified, but I am concerned about the stress involved with students finding their work has been messed with and the time I need to spend undoing the mess that was created.
It depends on how you set it up.  There is public-public (publicly viewed and publicly edited by anyone) - I DON"T EVER use this format just because I want and believe in accountability.

Then, there is public-private (publicly viewed and edited by members only) - This is what I use for my OLDER classes.

Finally there is private - private (viewable and editable by members only) -- this is what I use with my 7th grade homeroom or for any spaces with private information.  This is what I recommend for your set up.

Go into "Manage space" and then "subscription" - you can switch to the private version.  Then, click on the link to request a complimentary subscription for educators and as long as you are K12 and will have k12 students on there (which you are) they will remove the ads and give you the private space.

So, whether anyone can see is dependent upon how you set it up. 

As for what prevents plaigarism -- YOU!  You can tell if work is reused very easily.  Sometimes kids are copying off the internet and that is easy to tell also because many times the links are messed up. 

Is there stress at the beginning of starting wikis -- YES.  However, the FIRST time you have an issue, you have to deal with it severely.  I handle wikivandalism under our school vandalism policy.  In this case, I didn't know how to lock pages and a student edited the assignment.  By the next period, they were in the principles office dealt with on vandalism charges in the way we handle that -- like writing on the bathroom walls level of vandalism.  So, expect wiki vandalism to happen early but catch it early.

You may also want to set up a way that students can report this, however, I really don't have a problem of this -- even when we have students all over the world editing, if a problem happens we revert.

Just remember that dealing with some issues of collaboration is preparing them for life.  Life is messy and group work is messy -- but wikis are really a great way to do projects. I find that kids LOVE that everyone is held accountable for their own work.  Just stress that they are accountable for their own password and if they share it - they are still accountable for their own password and user id.  This is the golden rule for handling wiki issues!

Finally, if  a mess is made, correct it on the board in front of the whole class and make THEM FIX THEIR OWN MESSES.  I don't fix wiki wars after the first time I model it -- they do.  They tag it "turnin" when done.  If  a problem happens, I just go in the history to grade and find whatever the issue was.

Much better than just making a plain web page that you cannot track.  Is it perfect?  No.  But is it a great learning experience - yes. 

I'm not going to tell you that it is perfect at the beginning.  The FIRST Wiki lesson is the worst wiki lesson.  I can guarantee it.  After having taught several hundred students and lots of adults -- this is the fact about teaching wikis.  So, I've always taken the approach of putting the students all on one page and forcing the wiki war to happen -- showing them how to relax and fix it and then talk about "now that is why we have small groups for these projects."

I rarely do individual student wiki pages -- most pages are group projects because they need to do collaborative writing. If I want an opinion piece or individual first person thing, I do that on our private Ning, but I know teachers who do that on a wiki also.

Remember, keep it simple.  Start slowly.  Try one lesson and then go from there.
I guess that's it for this round.  As I get closer to the roll-out of this I am getting more terrified.  Thanks again for all your help.
Take it easy and take it slowly.  Who says you have to do ALL of your classes at the same time on the first day.  Can you have a "pilot" class at the beginning and just do it once with a traditional lesson in the other classes until you get your "feet wet?"  Don't put too much pressure on yourself -- but then again, you sound like a perfectionist.
By the way, I really appreciated the very kind words about me in your blog post yesterday.  It was really weird reading my name in "print".  That's only ever happened once before in the local paper and that was a while ago.  Really bizarre feeling…
The great thing is that now "we" are the paper.  Teachers never get recognized enough, but if we have it in our power to do good for another person, we are supposed to do it.  Personally, if I could write about several thousand teachers in my blog-lifetime it wouldn't be enough.  Blogging about another person is a gift.  Each person that links to me on their blog makes my day.  It is truly an honor to be linked to or written about because it means that we matter and have a legacy.

And no one should hear that more than teachers.  Thank you for sharing and thank you for letting our conversation be shared publicly.  
Take care and have a wonderful weekend,

Thank you, Tom for sharing.

Daily Spotlight on Education 09/15/2008

  • In Australia, a new social network for children ages 6-12 accessible only to students and teachers at Australian primary schools is launched. Called SuperClubsPLUS -- what a GREAT idea. Now, this is something other countries should be doing -- flattening at least the schools under their jurisdiction. Hope they have their disciplinary and reporting issues worked out b/c any where two students are gathered, online or off, there are always issues.

    Still don't understand why they are calling it a SOCIAL NETWORK. It is an educational network -- unless they are going to let it be social.

    tags: education, educational_networking, digitalcitizenship, techintegrator

  • Excellent post from Ernie Easter about how some in his state view the "cutting edge" of technology. It is insightful and powerful, but surely something many are seeing. I joined the seedlings ning just to have access to Cheryl Oakes, Bob Sprankle, Alice Barr, and Ernie Easter. Ernie is MY inspiration.

    tags: education, change, technology

  • This little goodie came from Merrill Guice -- tweet later lets you schedule tweets. Will have to see what I'd do for that, but I'll say, I have wanted to space them out before. ;-) I do use twitterfeed to send my blog feed and gcast into twitter when I post but I'll have to look at this -- I am intrigued by Merrill mentioning that this gives a welcome tweet to followers. Will have to look at that!

    tags: education, twitter, technology

  • Elizabeth "Beth" Holmes, former manager of the Center For Quality Teaching and Learning has been working with education and technology for a long time. She has started blogging and is now on my must read list.

    I said if she ever started blogging, I'd be a fan and I am -- this first post is an amazing call to action and also goes through the emotional internal debate we all have before moving into the edublogosphere.

    Beth has written for many educational magazines through the years and has the big picture understanding with also the practical back up of how things really work in the classroom.

    She's going to be a superstar and I'm glad she's blogging!

    tags: education, learning, edublogosphere, edublog

Sunday, September 14, 2008

12 Reasons to Get at Home in Chrome

Google Chrome is the new web browser released by Google.  Web browser pretty much sums it up at this point because Firefox users will not find any add ons.  Adobe Flash and Apple Quicktime ARE supported.  You can see my private wiki for my 7th grade homeroom class in the browser screen to the left.

But don't count Google out on this one, they've done a LOT of things to make web browsing better.  And if they add some plug ins on top, it is going to be pretty sweet.

I found myself right clicking to bookmark something to Diigo (and thus send it to my blog.)  Nope!
Then, I had a cool screenshot and wanted to use my Fireshot Screenshot program. Not that Either.

But there are some things that the Firefox and IE developers SHOULD integrate into their browsers because they make so much sense!

1) One Box Fits All
This makes so much sense.  The box at the top is a search box or a place to type in the URL or pull information out of your history.  Really, we don't need two boxes - we just need one.  This takes Firefox recent improvement and puts in the search box!

2) Every box is resizeable
If you can see the tiny lines in the bottom right corner of this blog post show above (blogged half in Firefox, half in Chrome) - you'll see that it is a RESIZE.  In Chrome, you can resize every dialog box for you to type on your screen.

For this reason, I might actually have my students take their online tests in Chrome -- it bothers them that sometimes my boxes aren't big enough on the exams but who knows how much or how little they will type.  Put it in their hands and let them decide the size of the box!

3) Bye Bye Title Bar
The tab titles are the title bar freeing up a little more highly coveted screen space.  Why did we have two?

4) A Blank Tab Isn't a Blank Slate
If you look at the graphic shown above #3, you'll see what a blank tab looks like.  It automatically gives you a thumnail of your most frequently used websites as well as a listing of your most recent bookmarks on the right hand side of the page.  Really, a little intelligence in that blank tab makes sense also.

5)Turbo Bookmarking
I LOVE Diigo and really would like their toolbar in Google, however, the idea of how they bookmark is great.  You click the star beside the browser and it is bookmarked.

6) Download and Drag
When you download, the item downloading appears in the bottom of the browser.  The main problem that people have is they don't know where it is downloading to.  This way, you drag it out of your browser into the folder or place you'd like to send it to.

7) The Inspector helps you be a Perfector
Web programmers will LOVE the resource  view in chrome.  By right clicking on any page and selecting "inspect element" you can see the download time of each element on the page.  (Hat tip to the Google Chrome Tips Blog for this tip and Screenshot)

8) Better Memory Management
Firefox is GREAT and IE is sub par in my book.  But the one that that is troublesome is that the Windows Task manager groups all of firefox or IE all together.  Chrome has put a task manager into the web browser.  You can click Shift + Esc and then a task manager for Chrome pops up and shows you how much memory is being used by each aspect of Chrome.

Geeks will notice the "stats for nerds" in the bottom left corner of the task manager in Chrome.  It gives you a lot more detail about memory usage.  they could ditch calling the people that use it "nerds," I find it insulting.  I'd rather prefer "geek," thank you!   (Why do they have to call us anything!  Just expert Statistics would be fine!)

9) Turns Web Apps Into "Real" Apps

This can be done the "long" way in other browsers, I think (by creating a shortcut to the web page), however, Chrome makes it very easy to treat Google Docs like a "real" application on your computer.

When you go to Google Apps, or a small handful of other programs including Online Microsoft Outlook Access and a few others, you can make them an application.  When you click on them from your start bar, desktop, or quick launch toolbar (wherever you added it in the first step), it opens into a window separate from Chrome with NO menu.  I thought I could add it back to chrome by dragging, but I couldn't make it work.

10) Go of the record
I hestitate to share this one because I don't mind being tracked myself -- my husband or kids are welcome to look in my history at any time.

However, if there was a reason, I would use Chrome to go "incognito."  I do believe if you perform illicit activities that eventually you'll be found out, however, there are places in this world that do limit freedom and this could be something that could be used.  (Hat tip to Tech Republic for this tip.)

11) Google Chrome is Open
For those who love the Open Source Community, you may want to download the Open Source Version of Chrome, called Chromium

If you're looking for a fast, browser only browser and/or you are a web developer, Chrome is something to consider.  On the up side, it is very fast.

12) The Future:  Phone Chrome
The final reason I have for at least installing Chrome and using it a little, besides innate curiousity about anything new is the future of Google Accessibility.  Google Android is supposed to ship on some mobile phones this September (T-Mobile online) with many putting this off into next year.  And although my cellular company, Verizon, has been unfriendly towards google in the past, they are beginning to talk.

Mobility of bookmarks and browsers is something that many have played with, even Google, which abandoned its work on Browser Sync and open sourced it this past July.  The fact is, simplifying life is something we want and need and I would think that Chrome, Android and Google gears are going to give us that.

An excellent article in Information Week released this week about how it makes financial sense for software companies (particularly smaller ones) to develop their apps for Chrome because it will be a consistent platform that will work the same no matter what phone it is on as long as the phone has Chrome.

Then, programs like the super cool student tool Cram, which let students review on their cell phones will no longer be just Blackberry or Iphone/Itouch compatible but will let us create flash cards and review games for kids to play on their cell phones wherever they are.  (They have their phones everywhere, what better way to get them to study!)

Love that Thing in Your Student's Pocket
To me, the killer app for education is to truly harness the cell phone in student learning.  For teachers frustrated that kids won't carry their books home or homework home or carry their planner to class, the answer is as close as their pocket.

Their cell phone can be their homework, book, planner, polling system, and textbook.  With memory, ability, and ubiquity growing by leaps and bounds, good schools will head in that direction.

Can cell phones be a distraction?  Sure, but so can paper, pens, scissors, and even the human voice.  It is about behavior and we've got to stop punishing the gadgets that may very well hold the key to improving our students' academic performance.

Funday Monday: Start Your Week with a Smile (weekly)

Daily Spotlight on Education 09/14/2008

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