Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Week of change!

Reading through my feeds, I can definitely tell most of the bloggers are teaching now. New posts are hard to come by. Some days, I can't find the time to eat lunch. I have 15 different classes, 400 different students, and about 60 different teachers to keep in order. Teaching science in an elementary school sure is different.

I have, however, found the time to create a wiki for my 3-5 graders. This will be interesting. Many students are asking... how it works, who can edit information, and what happens if someone deletes everything on the wiki. It's very basic at the moment. Eventually, I want the wiki to become a collaborative source used by students globally for learning purposes. I am trying to find a way to hold students accountable for misuse and sabotage. It sounds as though it will happen... (comments and questions asked by students). If there are any ideas, please feel free to comment. As of right now there is only one user name and password. I think this will need to change.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Hacking into the iphone

I woke up this morning to the news of an iPhone hacker on the local news. Supposedly, he spent over 500 hours working on this project in which he had to use a soldering iron to disassemble the iPhone. His point was to make the iPhone available to other cell service providers. His question...Why should AT&T get sole use of this technology?

This era of techno-relevance is mind boggling to say the least. To think...there are teenagers out there that are self-taught prodigies when it comes to the intricacies of these tech tools. This mere 17 year old decided to use his skills to hack into the newest gadget on the market. These types of ideas happen every day I am sure, but this is national news now. It took him the same amount of time that it took 5 trained hacks to do the same thing to the iphone.

Does this 17 year old need college?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Addicted to Blog

70%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Mingle2 - Dating Site

Yes, I had to see how addicted I actually was. I don't think 70% makes me too addicted. I havn't had much time to put new entries on my blog recently. I have been bombarded by new information and getting my mind ready to teach. Hopefully, once I get a few weeks under my belt, I will come back to blogging regularly.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What needs to be asked

I just went to my yearly County In-Service at another school. This consists of about 30 elementary science teachers sitting around listening to the "Science Person" from the County Board of Education. In our county, science is one of the few subjects that has its indicators/curriculum written by the teachers themselves. This has already been done.

Today we spent about 4 hours discussing the order (pacing) in which these indicators will be taught this year.

My point:
What did we do?
The wrong questions were being asked at this meeting. We spent the valuable time arguing/explaining the reasons why certain teachers wanted certain indicators to be taught at certain times. Most of the time was spent with teachers complaining about their situations, complaining about students and how they forget everything that is taught to them, and complaining about other teachers. At the end of this meeting, we figured out the first quarters pacing and have an idea of what the remainder of the year is going to look like regarding curriculum.

What should we have done?
We should have discussed how(the processes involved) to teach these children. This is a realm that is not addressed anymore, it seems.

We are going to continue to have students that can't remember taught curriculum, struggle to learn, and fall short on processing skills if we don't address HOW to teach. This involves the activities and the processes that we require our students to take part in.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

My District? RSS?

Unbelievable!! I was searching through my school based e-mail last night. I usually get a few useless e-mails everyday, so I just go through and delete them. Last night I was noticing an e-mail that was titled "CCPS Press Releases". I never heard them use this language before in an e-mail. I opened the e-mail and to my surprise it was a group of articles that are in the form of a blog. I scrolled down through the list of article and I saw the familiar RSS/XML button. I thought I was seeing things. I couldn't believe my eyes. Someone is beginning to get with he program. I immediately subscribed to the press releases. Now, when I open up the education section of my feeds, I get my districts press releases automatically.

My goal is to now discuss with someone the importance of making the site a little more interactive. I think it is only fair to have a comment section to the articles. I know this will open up a can of worms that the district probably doesn't want to hear, but they need to hear it!

I am going to stay on top of this. I don't want this to end here. I would like to see more effort put into creating on-line tools that are teacher, student, and parent friendly. What about a school based curriculum wiki. What about creating a weekly podcast per grade level that is linked to this site for student and parent use. The possibilities are endless.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Starting Again

It is like I am starting over as a new teacher this year. On Monday the 2oth, I am back in the classroom. This time I am the Science Resource Teacher at a Title I School. This will be a new set of interesting and tall hurdles to jump over. I now will have the privilege to teach all the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classes in the school. I will be responsible for many live animals, yearly Science Projects, the 5th grade end of the year over-night trips, and many other interesting events this year. Finding time to integrate my classroom 2.0 initiatives will be the real challenge. I will only be meeting with the students twice a week. This doesn't allow me nearly enough time to integrate RSS Aggregators, wiki's and blogs into the curriculum. I will have to play this one by ear to see how much we can accomplish. I will start off using my own blog as a communication between school and home. We will see how this takes off. I will continue to use as by blog of choice for student use. This format lends itself nicely to teachers because of the edit features. Thanks to David Warlick and his Landmark Project, we have this avenue to drive down.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Back on Track

I found myself getting off topic with the subject matter in this blog. Even though government and business have a lot to do with education, I felt as though I needed to start another blog to focus my concentration in the two areas. In Regulation Machine , I would like to focus more on issues surrounding our government and large business.
This is probably not the best time to start a new blog. I begin a new teaching position on Monday of next week. Oh well. This should be fun. It might take me a while to set the blog up the way I want it, but it's there.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sponsored/Censored by AT&T

Recently one of the most musically talented and outspoken bands of my generation, Pearl Jam, was censored by AT&T at Lallopalooza. During one of their songs, "Daughter", Eddie Vedder went on to say, " George Bush Leave this World Alone", and then, " George Bush Find Yourself Another Home". The crowd loved it, but you couldn't hear them. The webcast sponsored by AT&T was censored so that Eddie was cut off immediately after he said his first statement.
This is not the same as government censorship. This is sponsor censorship. AT&T decided that they would not let Eddie have his constitutional right as a citizen of the United States. They decided that rather than risk their important reputation as a company, they would completely mute the words of an individual that is trying to make sense of a confusing, egotistical government.

AT&T claim that it was all a mistake. They blame it on some mix-up in the soundboard room. I don't buy the excuse. The placement of the muting was all too convenient.
I know that this happens all the time with large companies censoring their sponsored individuals. They just happened to mess with one of my favorite bands. I think that Eddie will continue to press this issue. Pearl Jam has a great influence throughout the world. Many people that are in my generation follow the band.

Everyone should be upset at AT&T's actions. AT&T decided that YOU as an individual citizen are not intelligent enough to know that Eddie Vedder's words are his own views. They decided that since you are not intelligent enough to know this, they will completely mute his voice so that you will not be exposed to it. This is a common theme in our nation. Not only with big business, but also with our government. It all comes from FEAR. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being figured out. Fear of revolution. Fear of the mass.

Eddie is one of the most charismatic and perceptive individuals I have ever seen speak. His ideologies and views of our nation come from many years of contemplation and investigation. If anyone has the ability to put fear in the eyes of the government and the corporations, Eddie does. I can't wait to see what comes out of this scenario.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Advice worth listening to!

I recently read a blog post by Will Richardson discussing the education reform front. He mentioned the name Doug Noon. I have been reading posts by Doug ever since. Doug has a great way of creating discussions on topics that are not usually discussion filled topics... Clearing a Space to Think had 15 comments posted in just a day or two. Simple topics, creative delivery, the education reform front is alive!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Validity of Study...

It has been a hot topic in the blogosphere over the last couple of days. The National School Boards Association has released a study (pdf) funded by Microsoft and Verizon, that states...

"The internet isn't as dangerous as people think, and teachers should let students use social networks at school"

You can read more about this study by clicking on the above link. Many bloggers feel as I feel. Is this study valid? Microsoft and Verizon funded the study. I know that it is a start in the right direction, but I want to play devils advocate at the moment. What do you think the other side will say?

It sounds a little like this...
Having Exxon fund a study on oil refinement benefits or...
Halliburton getting all the major reconstruction bids in a war torn Iraq...

Microsoft and Verizon stand to gain billions of dollars from school systems embracing social networking.
I tend to play my games fair, I don't enjoy having a debt with anyone, and I sure would love to see a valid study that shows the benefits of web 2.0 practices in our school systems. I know that there are many benefits... I see it first hand in my classroom. It's not people like us that need convincing. Maybe we should start inviting our congressmen into our classrooms. Maybe a study funded by a third party that doesn't have their hands tied down by one of these billion dollar corporations is what we need. I don't know what the answer is.

The fact of the matter is this...
You can read the study up and down, agree with every small fact that is put on the table, get excited about the changes that might happen, and even blog about the benefits of the study. All the study's credentials were snuffed out the window when I saw the names of the funding companies at the bottom of the page. An exchange of money was involved somewhere.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

New York Cities Answer: Bribery?

This is sad. Are we giving up on our students? An article in the New York times today discusses the use of money for good test scores. Does anyone else see something wrong with this scenario?

"Should cash be used to spur children to do better on reading and math tests? Suzanne Windland, a homeowner raising three children in a placid enclave of eastern Queens, doesn’t think so. Her seventh grader, Alexandra, she said, had perfect scores last year. But she doesn’t want New York City’s Department of Education to hand her $500 in spending cash for that achievement. That’s what Alexandra would earn if her school was part of a pilot program that will reward fourth and seventh graders with $100 to $500, depending on how well they perform on 10 tests in the next year"

This teaches our students a lesson. They will associate learning and achievement with money. The chancellor of New York City Schools, Joel I. Klein, states "no one has figured out how to get more poorer children engaged in learning."

I say, let's start with asking the students what we could do to engage them. I think that you would be surprised with the responses.

Responding with extrinsic rewards is a bandaid. Will this work?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Blurb for easy Publishing

I was searching through my account seeing what other types of applications I could use with my photos. I came across This sight allowed me to produce a unique 48 page picture book in about 3 hours. I used the the sights directions, downloaded the software, and now I have a published book that I authored and illustrated being mailed to me in a few days. The only thought that crossed through my mind was... this is amazing!

Think of the endless possibilities that this could create in the classroom.

I am using it for a gift to my family. I have compiled many interesting photographs from my journey to the northeast. I have added many informative captions and descriptions to the book, along with a unique cover. I have ordered the book in soft cover first. I am interested to see the quality that this company produces.
My book is Titled "A Trip for the Memory"

Monday, August 6, 2007

Are we still living in the past?

After having 2 interviews today for different positions, I have noticed that the administration still doesn't get it. They have been told that they need to include technology into the curriculum, they need to get their teachers on board, and they need to learn these new technologies themselves. But... they have no clue why.

This is the very reason why our technology implementation in schools right now is stagnate. Teachers are only using about 10% of what the internet has to offer. They use the internet as an informational resource. Most are not aware of the publishing capabilities.

I went on to explain to these principals about my technology integration goals this year. I discussed weekly podcasts, creations of wiki's, and using feed aggregators to keep up with current topics. I then discussed the reasons I feel strongly about using these tech-literacy's with the students. I had to explain, in detail, what each of these programs consisted of.

Why have some state's implemented these new tech-literacy's, and others, like my state have not even discussed what they are?

Reading other blogs, I feel as though Maryland is slipping behind other states when it comes to web 2.0 literacy's.

Will students from Maryland be able to compete with students from other states in 10 years? I don't know the answer to this. I am going to make a difference, no matter how small it might be. I want to be part of the information revolution and teach every student how to make these technologies work for them.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Maine issue

In a previous blog, I made a generalization about the state of Maine. I do understand that Maine has more to it than the coastal regions. I was trying to make a point, and in doing that, I made some generalizations. I racked my brain to think of the differences between the people in the northeast and the people in Southern Maryland.
Not only Maine, but states like Vermont and New Hampshire, have what I would call a sense of pride in community. Where I live, this is not the case.
I went about 5 days without seeing a Wal-Mart, 7-eleven, Home Depot, Target, McDonalds, Rite Aid, or a Best Buy. These 5 days were spent walking in and out of small shops and talking openly with the locals. These towns (Woodstock, Vermont) will not let big business enter. This is an amazing sense of community. This is something that is foreign to me. This is what I saw in Maine. In Maine, I went to Ogunquit, Deer Isle, Bar Harbor, and Kennebunkport. We also drove through many small towns that were inland. Very enjoyable drive!!
After reading comments, maybe this sense of pride in community is what is different. I hope that some day in my community, eyes would open to see the changes being made in states like Maine.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Yesterday, I drove 7 hours from North Pennsylvania to Southern Maryland. When I got home, I helped some friends move. Needless to say, I was tired when my head hit the pillow last night. The trip was very much needed.
Now, my focus can return to education. Summer is almost over. I have a few interviews on Monday. One interview for an elementary Science teacher position, and another interview for a 3rd grade position. I am leaning towards the Science position. I already have a few great ideas for the students. A weekly podcast for each grade level, and I am currently thinking of ways in which we can research, and stay up-to-date using an aggregator such as google reader or pageflakes. Any way, I have to get the job first.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Fortunate Sons

In my travels through the Northeast, I have witnessed some interesting characteristics about this part of the country.
1. Many cultures collaborating peacefully (many people from countries in Europe)
2. Almost everyone is laid back (Some shop employees in Bar Harbor were a little rude)
3. Very little poverty (No shortage of money from residents or tourists)
4. After speaking to a few people in a Vermont town, there are open conversations about our corrupt government. (Many want a grass roots revolution to occur in the streets)
5. Many people living simple lives (some towns took me back 50-75 years)

I don't know what is is about certain areas of the country. I could live here.
While we were in Deer Isle, Maine, we stopped by many houses that had art studio's. Yes, the artists that live there have open tours of their houses that are also their studios. It's kind of like an art studio every 100 yards or so driving through the mountains. Many artists displayed their work in their studio and also had a place where you could watch them work. We stopped in to a water color painters house and had some good conversations. Her name was Christine York. She used water colors as her medium to paint rocks and other landscapes. Her work was awesome. Her son was also an artist. He used different metals to form creative large scale scuptures. I asked Christine about the school system in her area... how many kids in the school system, where were the schools, did they have appropriate tools for education? This area was quite destitute. All that we passed were artist studio's and Lobstermen. You could tell if a Lobsterman lived in a house by all of the Lobster pots in their front yard. Any way, She went on to tell me that they had a great school system in Deer Isle, almost every student went to an Ivy League College after graduation, they had the best sports teams, wonderful facilities, and any type of educating tool available to them. She went on to explain how the property taxes of the wealthy pay for the schools. These people don't even live in Deer Isle, Maine. They own 10 million dollor summer homes that they are living in for maybe a month, pay huge property taxes, and the area they live in prospers. Pretty cool. Without these wealthy people, this area would be in ruins.
Going on trips like these, reminds me of how small I really am. It also reminds me of how many different people we share this world with. Check out more pictures from my trip at