Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Yearbook Pictures

I'm looking for the best place to store yearbook pictures, as we do not have CD Burners and may never get them at the rate we move. Would the blogospheric community recommend Flickr, Slideshare, Bubbleshare, something else, or ? I'm assuming here that the Imagewall is a no-no :)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Why I do what I do....

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Is using all the resources at hand really cheating?

I had a long circular discussion with students today about resources. Some students have been actually doing what I say (and that is surprising in itself). They have been looking up and learning vocabulary words before the test, then bringing those notes that they spend time making to the test with them. Considering that Einstein did not know his phone number, but knew where to access this information, I find nothing wrong with this. It is, after all, an educational process. One student couldn't believe that he could "cheat" and I had a difficult time convincing him that using resources is not cheating. When these kids graduate, they will need the skills that I teach them. Memorization, except maybe their passwords which most write down anyway, is not one of those necessary skills. The ability to use resources, to find information, to narrow topics, to collaborate, to use technology for their own purposes, these are the skills they will need.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Are you who you want to be?

It has been said by Stephen Downes recently that we should model the people we want our students to be. Stephen's Web
I strive and fail at this everyday! I am not anywhere near as creative nor as productive as any of my students. Just this evening, as I had a Meebo (IM) going with a kid in each class at the same time (and research says we can't multi-task. Hrmph!), I noticed that if I had never met some of my challenged students, I would never know their challenges just by their words. In fact, if I could separate their typed words from their persons, they do seem gifted! I am impressed with the growth I see in each one who is trying, on whatever level. I just pray I will model who they need me to be!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Integrity

We have been created by our God for relationship. It follows that many minds produce superior content. Collaboration is therefore a coveted 21st century skill as is consensus. I learned these skills as part of my K-12 education. Now I question myself, and anyone foolish enough to listen, about the best way to foster these same objectives in my students. Usually the words just flow out, like a stream, probably a stream of gibberish, but a stream nonetheless. I find myself really pulling these words out, testing them, mulling over them.
Somehow, I need to emphasize in each student an intrinsic sense of integrity. I need to encourage in each learner a desire to do everything as unto the Lord. I need to ignite that flame in each and every child, not just a few. How can I ever be equal to this task? I just answered my own question. I cannot ever do this. But I know someone who can. I have access to incredible power that can level mountains, split seas, change the course of lives.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

It's NOT about the cool tools!

This point was driven home recently at the PETE-C in Hershey, PA. We are merely facilitators in the educational landscape using cool tools to educate students. Those students are what it is all about! (No, Tammy, it is not all about you). That landscape is a mass of wrinkles, not flat as Friedman purports.
The use of these cool tools boils down to a common theme = good education. If we have been doing our jobs all along, the implementation of new tools and the shift to a new paradigm are not unsettling, they are invigorating.
Somehow we need to get students to master objectives that make them comfortable in this world. Our comfort is not our concern. It has been emphasized ad nauseum that we are educating students for 10-14 jobs by the time they are 38 in fields not yet invented, solving problems about which no one has yet thought. We have an impossible job, let's get busy!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

For such a time as this...

Our pastor gave a great sermon last Sunday. He is really on fire for serving Jesus. It is, therefore, no surprise that he works part-time and donates his time as a pastor. He reminded us that we are created by our Lord for such a time as this. There is the story of Esther to illustrate this. Even I have been created for such a time as this one. Am I, therefore, doing what He wants me to be doing? Is being one of the few faculty members from my school applying Web 2.0 tools in my classrooms right now what He wants me to accomplish? I just saw an amazing video by 4th grade. We could use this Skypecasting to include a student at our school. I have forwarded the video link to my administration. Hopefully, they will see the value and hopefully it's not too far in the school year to put this into practice....Watch what I mean
http://www.arisleyschool.org/Inclusion.mov

Thursday, February 8, 2007

SMILE!

I related to Miguel McGuhlin's acronym, mentioned recently:
S+ M + I + L + E => Change

Sustain current initiatives

Model new approaches

Innovate as much as possible

Laugh and invite others to recognize the silliness of one solution to the exclusion of others in a Web 2.0 world

Empower the powerless

How many times have you heard me tell you to smile? Now I have another good reason to say it!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Vickie's Query

Your Essential question of the day!
How are you connecting your classroom? How are you getting connected? Are you connecting so that you can learn? Are you modeling the kind of person that they will need to be?

I am trying to connect with each student in a personal way and also spurring them on to greater heights. Some are willing, some are blocked by others or themselves, trapped in an industrial schema of school. I have not yet connected with these students, and some are seniors, so unless something happens fast (and never underestimate the power of our Lord) or they continue to converse with me past graduation...
I tell students about what I learn and what I don't yet know all the time. I want to foster intrinsic motivatiom in each of them. They have come to expect that seat-time equals taking a course. It really has very little to do with seat-time.
The ones that are intrinsically motivated already use technology to connect, even over holidays and weekends (and yes snow days like today). I don't stress out about them. It's the other ones, and their parents, about whom I worry. I figure the teachers who teach in accordance with the industrial model should know better and they have college degrees....crass, I know.
How are we getting connected? I sound like a commercial for Will Richardson...blogs, wikis, podcasts. We seek to collaborate with other schools. Currently we are collaborating with a classroom in another state on creating wikis. It's difficult to get students and parents to understand that groups do not need to meet in order to collaborate...but I trek on.....and miles to go before I sleep...

A Question for the Readers (assuming there are any)

I was wondering.....I'm keeping both a webpage at
http://
www.myteacherpages.com/webpages/LDurff/index.cfm

AND blogs at blogmeister for classes.
What is the value of doing both?
Next year, should I just post a yearlong message on the webpage saying hw is on the blog and the address?
I have already paid for this school year, so changing would not happen until next year anyway.
I use the webpage for library and clubs too, so I might want to keep it for that, but then again....why should I continue to pay for a site when there are free platforms which I could use?
What is the wisdom of the community?

Monday, February 5, 2007

Connected Learning

Will Richardson raises an interesting point at the Connectivism Conference this week...
Am I connecting my students with learning? He gives the example of a teacher IMing with a student. While I was listening to this, I was IMing a student. I wonder how meaningful our conversations really are, however. Most students ask surface questions, like what's the homework, or what did I miss yesterday? How can I foster more meaningful dialog with my students?

The Bell

The school bell does not define learning. Learning does not magically end when the class ends, so why should any of us feel confined by a schedule? We are not blank slates, we are a complex amalgam of several millions of firing dendrites.
School objectives must include goals that will be useful to the students during their entire lives. These goals include successful collaboration, successful networking, successful use of 21st century technology.
We all need to hunger after integration into other subject areas. We all are teachers of Reading, Mathematics, Physics, Foreign Languages, History. We may individually specialize, but we all have many things outside our areas of specialization which we know how to teach.
Content must be sacrificed in favor of depth. We have been trying to write on student's mind, instead of facilitating their deeper understandings of every topic. Many times I contend with other adults who worry about topic coverage rather than student's ability . We need to teach students HOW to learn, rather than what to learn.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Podcasts from the Lair!

It bothered me, so I erased it. It's at my webpage.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Easiest Way to Lead is to Follow

Stephen Downes blogged:
...the best way to influence people is to give away your ideas, and let others take ownership!
It's rather obvious to me that if you really want to be a leader, then learn to follow well. I certainly am not a good follower, but I strive to be. I see daily many excellent followers all around me, and I long to do as well as they do! I wonder if they realise just how influential their quiet demeanors really are? Think of the heroes you emulate. Were they close-fisted bureaucrats or quiet back-stage get it done sort of people who gave it all away?

Big Brother is watching you!

Today I tried to record a podcast with a 1st grade classroom. They had celebrated the 100th day of school all week long and participated in several activities. I could not accomplish this because the computer, as the majority of our school computers, had no Flash. It never occurred to me to check for Flash first and I cannot download anyway, only Big Brother can do so. The disappointed looks and voices were terrible. I will have to try to make it up to them tomorrow afternoon in the computer lab. I pray that I get to use a computer that has the necessary software.