Monday, July 30, 2007

Lead Pencil Club

I'm still truckin along, on my last legs of this East Coast trip. I am in Franconia, New Hampshire, deep in the White Mountain Region. I have yet to stay at a place that doesn't offer a free wireless connection. Unbelievable if you ask me. Well, in Boston, we had a wireless connection, but nothing was free. I am out in the middle of nowhere, I look around, all I see is mountains, and I have a wireless connection. I love it.

List of the cities in which I have been
Philadelphia, Pa
Princeton, NJ
New York
Providence, RI
Pawtucket, RI
Plymouth, Mass
Boston, Mass
Salem, Mass
Ogunquit, Me
Bar Harbor, Me
Kennebunkport, Me
Deer Isle, Me
Franconia, NH

Today, we are off to Vermont to stay for 2 days, New York for 1, and Pennsylvania for 1. Then home sweet home.
I have decided not to add any more photos to Flickr until I get back to the home front. It was taking entirely too much time to upload the pictures.
Great conversations in Blogworld. I have been keeping up with them on my journey's. I haven't had a lot of time to blog and comment on other blogs, but I plan to dive in when I get home. I am in the middle of reading a book by the Lead Pencil Club. Very interesting to hear the other side of the Internet debate. The cool thing is that I can argue almost every point they try to make. More to come about this book...

Friday, July 27, 2007

Many Cities in a few days

What a great trip. From Philadelphia, to Princeton, to New York, to Providence, to Pawtucket, to Plymouth, to Boston, to Salem, to Ogunquit, Maine. I am now in Ogunquit, Maine. What a great environment. You can sit down, eat dinner, and watch the Lobstermen come in from a day of fishing. These kind of towns really make you slow down a bit. Priceless vacation.
Through all of this traveling, I have had internet service at all locations. Even the bed and Breakfast I am in at the moment offers free internet connections. I have been able to read and keep up with most of the blogs on a daily basis. Some interesting points of discussion. In David Robb's , he discusses the importance for schools to embrace technologies such as the cell phone. He discusses ways in which cell phones can be used in the classroom. This is an interesting discussion. We are moving further away from where we need to be. School districts are blocking web content and banning important learning tools. Why is this?
I think this comes from being scared. The administrators making the rules don't know how to use these tools, and refuse to learn how. They fear the unknown.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pawtucket, Outside Providence

We entered Pawtucket last night. Cool little town. Have not had a chance to explore. It will be done today. Today will be filled with the exploring of Pawtucket, Providence, and Boston. This is my first time in any of these cities.
Yesterday we spent most of our day at a unique 35 acres of sculptures in New Jersey called "Grounds for Sculpture". For pictures, check out my Awesome sculptures. I have been lucky enough to have wireless along the way. I have been using the laptop and borrowing the wifi in each state. I hope I will find it easy to connect when we get to Maine. More pictures and blogs to come... We have 10 days left on the trip.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Great idea

I am kicking myself as I am on this trip. Wouldn't it be great to publish a video interviewing people along the way. A great topic... How people in the Northeast feel about George W. Bush and his administration. I wish I would have brought a digital video recording device. Oh well, it looks as though I will have to just take pictures and publish them on my account.
We are staying in a hotel in Princeton, NJ. We toured downtown Princeton last night. What a great sight. This was the first Ivy League College that I have seen in person. What a great town. It looks as though you need to have a little money to live here though.
Today we are picking up the 2nd leg of our trip. We are visiting "Grounds for Sculpture" in NJ and then we are off to Providence, RI. Will be back soon with more pictures and perhaps a blog or two.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ego and other dysfunctions

I am an open INDEPENDENT when it comes to politics. I don't affiliate myself with any of the two party antics. I think both parties need a lot of work.
After many years of trying to pinpoint what is dysfunctional about the Bush Administration, I think I have put my finger on the problem. It is obvious that George W. Bush has a massive ego. His father had an ego. One difference between him and his father: His father had an ability to mask his ego and make the country feel as though he actually cared about the good of the country. George W. Bush cannot do this. He is like the little 8 year old boy at his own birthday party that has to win all the games or he throws a tantrum until he gets his way. Obviously this is a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. He has never learned the ability to show that he cares. It is evident in all of his speeches that he has only one agenda: letting you know that he is right and there is no other answer to the problem. He has lost the respect of the American people, except for a few conservatives that are on his same level. I think you can go as far as saying the "Presidency" has lost the respect of the American people because of "W". The next president has a huge task ahead of them. It should be interesting to watch what happens.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Off we go!

As we speak I am packing to go on my east coast adventure. First stop Philadelphia, Pa. I am stopping by Pats Steaks to get a cheese steak from the originator of the sandwich. After we leave the City of Brotherly Love, we will be heading due east to Princeton, NJ to bed down for the night. Should be pretty interesting. I have never stayed anywhere in the State of NJ. From NJ we will be headin up the coast to Providence RI. By this time I will be able to get back on here for some more blogging. More blogging and pictures to come...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Woody's Links

There are a few sites on the net that I have found to be very easy to work with. is my go to site. They have actually remodeled the whole site with more template options and more choices for feeds. Pageflakes is like my personal newspaper. I have subscription to everything from educational blog feeds to the local movies that are playing. Any problems you have with the site, the help center is almost immediate to answer your questions. I have not been disappointed at all with this online newspaper site.
Another site that I have found to be very useful is I upload all of my photos to flickr. Instead of taking up space on my hard drive with thousands of pictures, I use flickr's to store them. I have updated to a flickr pro account which costs me $24.99 a year. I have unlimited storage capabilities with flickr. This site also makes it very easy to put pictures into my blogs, share pictures with friends, and access my pictures from anywhere in the world. You can check out my photos by going to the URL
These 2 links have been the most useful links along my path of learning on the internet. I hope you check them out.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Road Trip

I have never been on a road trip in the Northeast as an adult. I am really looking forward to the opportunity. I somewhat mapped out the trip. We will be stopping in many towns and cities. To list some... Princeton, Providence, Portland, Boston. I will be leaving on Monday 7/23 and returning on Friday 8/3. I will be blogging while I am on my trip hopefully sucking up some free WiFi in the hotels. Blogs and pictures to come...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I'm still alive and learning

This is a response to Will Richardsons recent blog about educators missing the point. I think that he is right. It is not enough to have your students blog, create a podcast, start a wiki, or learn by feeds on their aggregators. These tools are great to use with your students.
But theres a question that needs to be asked... Do YOU use these tools to do YOUR learning? Most educators would probably answer NO to this question. As an educator, how do you expect to teach using certain vehicles, if you don't use them yourself. I would never expect my students to use a tool unless I could answer questions about how to use that tool.

What I see happening...
Teachers are missing the point. It has been my experience that the teachers I deal with automatically shut off all brain waves when I start talking with them about a new project that I am interested in starting with my students. Any mention of unfamiliar territory in the realm of technology is taboo. When I mention that I am blogging with my students, the first response is... "Can you show me how to do that with my students"? I respond with "yes, but you should create a blog first for yourself". Their response is usually... "Oh, I don't have time to do that". Teachers are always trying to make more time in their day. I am a teacher, and I have plenty of time in the day. Is it because I use my time more wisely? Do I know some kind of secret the others are unaware of? I believe teachers need to learn how to use their time at school more efficiently. By this I mean, continue learning new and useful ways to teach and learn in the school environment. How can we be expected to teach a technology driven generation without the use of technology? This is like teaching someone how to drive without the use of a car.

Final Thought...
As an educator, I have a responsibility to be a life-long learner and teacher. I cannot be expected to teach students anything that I haven't already learned. This generation is driven by technology. This technology is not going anywhere. We need to embrace it, learn to use it, learn with it, teach to use it, and teach with it, in order to move on as a society.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Caught off guard, but refreshing

Yesterday I was completely caught off guard by a telephone call. A Principal called me and gave me an interview over the phone. I was at a friends house helping him clean out his gutters. I immediately went inside so I could talk to her in a private room.
She asked great questions. She sounded like a very nice person. I should hear today about the job. I can't wait.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Pictures from last Friday

We didn't get 2 bushels, but 1 did the trick!

The aftermath

Education and Trust

I watched an interesting news report today about the DANGERS of putting private online photos on sites like MYSPACE and FACEBOOK. The overall theme was the same that it always is when the media talks about these sites. They are feeding fear to everyone that watches. It seems as if they are trying to scare you into not using the internet.
Matt Lauer spent about 10 minutes saying things like, "We need to protect our kids from these sites", and "These sites are very dangerous to use for kids". We wonder why the overall thought of these sites is negative. Negativity is all you hear about in the media. They do not discuss the people that are using these sites responsibly and actually using them for social networking.
We need to focus on education of the children and not trying to always protect them. What will happen if you shield your kids eyes from everything bad their whole lives? Children know these sites more than parents do. They will always find a way to use them. Parents need to focus their time on learning these sites, educating the kids, and embracing the technology that is available. I heard Matt Lauer say the term, "The internet craze". I don't think this is a craze. The internet is here to stay. New sites are added daily and they are constantly being mastered by kids younger than you and I. The only way to educate the kids is to become familiar with them ourselves.
When you say the word MYSPACE, the uneducated person automatically prejudges and fears the site. Why is this? Do they use the site? Do they have a child that had a bad experience with the site? I don't think so. They probably saw an episode of "To Catch a Predator" or saw a report like the one I saw this morning that talks about the negative things that can happen when using these sights. I, on the other hand, embrace the technology and focus on how we can learn from these sites. They are here to stay, I will use them, and I will show my kids how to use them.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Day on the River

Today I will be on the Patuxent River collecting crabs for about 8 hours. This is one of my favorite activities to do on a 85 degree day. Needless to say, I will not be by any computers or technology based equipment. The most technology I will have contact with is the depth finder on the boat. Hopefully, I will end my day around noon with a few bushels of Marylands finest, only to enjoy the rest of my day eating crabs on the water. Pictures to come. Until next blog...

Outside Benedict , Maryland. The line represents where will drop the line for crabbing purposes. This is where I will be. Gotta go to beat everyone else to the spot.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Gondola Ride of Intentions

It only makes sense to teach history from the first event and on and on until we reach present day, right? This is what we created timelines for. We wanted to see the order of events represented on paper in the order in which they happened.

What a genious idea... teach history from present day backwards. You can evoke more questioning this way. Instead of looking at history as a cause and effect relationship, look at the events and question how and why the event happened by continuing further into the past.

U.S. History in the year 2050...

Teach about the failed attempt to westernize a muslim country (Iraq). Tell students about the many innocent families that were killed, the U.S. soldiers that gave their lives, and the government that the rest of the world despises. Then ask the students... How did we get here? Have the students trace the steps that the U.S. took in order to fail at turning a country into a democracy. They could continue to go back in time to discuss the presidents father and his failed attempt at the same idea. This would be a wonderful way to teach.

Just to think, reflections about who, why, where, and when in reverse timeline order.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The End Result

I have mentioned the need to change the education model that we currently have in place in our schools. I believe that I read in one of Roger Shanks' posts that it has been the same model since 1895, . Any way, reading David Warlick's Blog today, I decided to add my opinion to the mix.

I believe that the end result can be articulated painlessly. I may have to do some explaining. I do not claim to have all the answers, but I do think I know what needs to happen. We need to do whatever it takes to create INDEPENDENT LEARNERS. Currently, we have a population of DEPENDENT LEARNERS. By independent learners, I mean, students that can rely on themselves to find and use the vehicles in which they help them gain knowledge on a daily basis. By dependent learners, I mean, students that depend on an outside source to direct them to those vehicles.

My focus in the classroom is on creating a population of independent learners. This sounds easy, but the students are not familiar with this model. When these students come to my classroom they have already been programmed for 5 years to be dependent learners. The teacher tells them what book to use, what homework assignment to complete, what the rules are in the classroom, when to get up, when to sit down, when to go to the bathroom, and sometimes, what they think. There is much work to be done that first month of school.

My focus is on having each student become self-sufficient on every level. As a class, they are dependent on themselves alone. Like a team. Most importantly, they do not rely on me for their answers, but for guidance as to how to come up with the answers.

There will be more to come...

Saturday, July 7, 2007

My students won't be left behind

In August, when I begin teaching my new class, I am planning on changing the face of the education model in our county. I will follow the curriculum, but plan to go out on a limb when it comes to the process in which we learn that curriculum. Tech literacies will be integrated into the big picture.

I have already contacted a few individuals in our district regarding tech grants. I want each of my students to have access to their own laptop, ipod, and digital media recorder. This is my goal. I figure that, I can do what I can for my class. After I get what I want for my class, I will work on getting it for the school. After that, I will continue to urge the remainder of school system to jump on board.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Computers for every child

Responding to David Warlick's blog , I am not quite sure he is looking at the whole picture. Many of the ed-tech pioneers have spent a little too much time in their cozy computer filled world. Don't get me wrong, I agree with most of the messages they bring to the table. It has been my experience that we need to first get all students connected at home and in the classroom before we can concentrate on students consistently learning these new literacy's.

The whole picture:
Most school districts do not have 1:1 students to computers. I do not know where this fact came from. I know that the school I teach in has 975 students and about 200 computers. Our school district is one of the most advanced in the nation when it comes to technology. We have partnered with Cisco to pilot many new technologies in our schools... IP phones, wireless Internet, CPS Clickers, and many other software improvements. Every teacher in our district has an IP phone. I would say 99% of them do not know how to use the tools on the phone, they just call people with it. About 1 % of our teachers actually use the CPS Clickers with their students. Improving this comes first in the big picture. How can you expect your students to learn new tech literacy's when they do not have the vehicle to do so. We need computers first and foremost.

I agree with David Warlick and his ideas about using computers as a vehicle to new literacy's in our schools. We have to have computers first.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Refreshing to the Mind

It doesn't happen often enough. When you hear an individual speaking about change in our nation, it is refreshing. Many people, about 8 months ago, started to jump on the Obama train for the race to the white house. I think this happened because of the Americans thirst for changing the way our nation is ran.

On the other hand, I sat back and gave each candidate a chance before I passed judgement on them. I am not jumping on the Obama bandwagon. Hearing what he has to say about the things he would like to change actually makes the most sense. He is not a politician in his core being. You can tell that as soon as you hear him speak. He speaks of changes that can actually help us as a nation and a globe.

When it comes time to run for political office, many candidates focus on the same agenda that makes no real difference to the world we live in. These agenda's have to deal with not politics, but religion. Abortion, stem cell research, gay marriage. Sometimes they put health care in the mix if we are lucky. The 3 prior subjects have to do with religious values. The dividing line on these actions is not with politics, it's with religion. Why do we focus on religion so much as a society? Why do we need a religion to be "good to each other"?

When I hear Obama speak, it is refreshing. He wants to change the problems that we have with the nation and the world. Obama speaks of changing the health care system, leaving Iraq, questioning reasons for poverty, reforming our educational system, and moral values. This is what I want in a president: Someone who actually is reflective and cares more about the whole picture. It is time we leave religion out of politics. They are like pickles and ice cream, they don't go together. We will have to see what happens in 2008.

Monday, July 2, 2007

The future of technology

It's hard to think that there can be anything else thought of in the realm of technology in our society. Imagine what we will know and the technology that will be available to us in the next 10 years. The last 10 years has been phenominal. We went from not having cell phones to having cell phones that are a phone, computer, ipod, web browser, camera, video camera, and credit card machine. That is 7 tools in one. In the last 10 years I think people have taken this technology for granted... whatever that means, you get the idea. From the time I graduated high school in 1997, the information world has completely changed. What I am doing right now, adding a post to my blog, was next to impossible in 1997. Many terms that I use on a daily basis had not been invented yet.

In the future, there will be technologies that we feel are mundane and pointless right now, but will be essential to be a part of the information revolution. We have no idea of what the future may have in store for us. It's going to fun.